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Winter 2018 News Briefs

Last updated: 2/16/2018

Health Insurance Rate Watch

Review Prevents $100 Million In Health Insurance Hikes

Oregonians will save more than $100 million on health insurance premiums in 2018—bringing the total in premiums cut by the Oregon rate review program to more than $280 million since 2010.

The cuts stem from work done by a new state program designed to contain rate hikes, supported by OSPIRG, combined with close scrutiny of proposed health insurance rates by OSPIRG Foundation and state regulators.

This year, OSPIRG Foundation conducted an independent in-depth analysis of the rate hike proposed by Providence Health Plan, the state's largest insurer for families and individuals purchasing coverage on their own, and encouraged the public to participate in the rate review process.

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) agreed with many of OSPIRG Foundation's concerns about the proposed rates, and ultimately cut an estimated $100 million in waste and unjustified costs from premiums—including more than $63 million from the Providence rate request.

OSPIRG Foundation is working hard to make sure health insurance companies do more to get rid of waste before they raise premiums because cuts of this scale make a real difference in the lives of Oregonians. The $100 million cut from 2018 health insurance premiums is enough to purchase basic adult dental coverage for 225,000 Oregon residents.

Still, as long as the healthcare debate continues to play out at the national level, our progress in Oregon will remain uncertain. Health insurance rates in Oregon may go back up if the federal government takes action to weaken protections for consumers.

That's why we're paying attention to health care changes on the federal level, and we'll be there to advocate for lower costs and better coverage for Oregonians no matter what happens in Washington, D.C.

 

Toxics

Working To Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides

Bees are dying at unprecedented rates, with real consequences for our food supply, environment and economy. We rely on bees to pollinate $15 billion worth of crops every year—everything from almonds to strawberries to the alfalfa used to feed dairy cows. 

That’s why OSPIRG launched our Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides campaign last fall, going door to door and email inbox to inbox to educate and engage our supporters to take action to save bees and our food supply.

With support from our members, we’re calling for states across the country to ban bee-killing pesticides like neonicotinoids. If enough states take action, we will eliminate the use of more than 40 percent of insecticides used in this country, giving bees a better chance to survive. 

Furthermore, that kind of collective action will be a strong signal to large chemical companies and to the federal government that the public wants to limit the use of bee-killing pesticides. 

Learn more about our campaign here.

 

Consumer Protection

Standing Up For Our Consumer Watchdog

Six years ago, OSPIRG helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to make sure banks and financial companies treat us fairly and play by the rules. Since then, the bureau has returned nearly $12 billion to ripped-off consumers. 

Yet President Trump and some in Congress are trying to strip away vital consumer protections, and even eliminate the Consumer Bureau. That’s why we knocked on more than 300,000 doors across the country last summer, mobilizing more than 60,000 citizens to sign our petition to Congress. 

In November, when Richard Cordray stepped down as director of the Consumer Bureau and the president named staunch CFPB opponent Mick Mulvaney as acting director, we doubled down on our efforts to ensure the agency stays strong and independent. With support from members like you, we’ll fight tooth and nail to ensure this important agency continues to thrive in the future. 

Get the latest from our campaign here

 

Toxics

Pushing For Toxic Cleanup After Hurricanes

After the hurricanes hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico last year, we learned anew that it’s not only the initial storm that threatens life and limb, but also chemical facilities and Superfund sites that are hit. 

Our national staff released factsheets to alert residents to the location and dangers associated with these sites, and successfully lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up a particularly dangerous site in Texas, the San Jacinto Waste Pits. 

With your support, we’ll continue to stand with Americans affected by the storms until they have the protections they need to safely recover. 

 

Toy Safety

Protecting Children From Dangerous Products

In November, OSPIRG Foundation released our 32nd annual Trouble In Toyland report, which found that stores nationwide are still offering dangerous and toxic toys and, in some cases, ignoring explicit government safety regulations in the process. In addition to exposing fidget spinners full of lead, the report identified inadequately-labeled toys and balloons that pose a choking hazard, and data-collecting toys that may violate children’s privacy and consumer protection laws. We also provided a list of toys that have been recalled over the past year.

Visit toysafetytips.org to read our full Trouble In Toyland report.

 

Democracy

Empowering Small Donors

Photo: ZehnKatzen

In our democracy, every voice should matter equally. Voters should decide elections, not special interest donors. Unfortunately, the concentration of large donor money in elections often means otherwise qualified candidates simply can’t run a competitive race without access to wealthy donors and special interests. With your support, OSPIRG is pushing for legislation to create a small donor matching system, a program that empowers candidates without networks of wealthy donors to run for office -- and win -- by accepting only small donations from people like you and me. In the fall, our staff met with lawmakers, the public, and the media to make the case that now is the time to act.

 

 


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