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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

High Levels of Lead Found in Fidget Spinners

U.S. PIRG Education Fund found fidget spinners with high levels of lead for sale at Target stores across the country. Parents and consumers need to know about these lead-laden toys, especially because we alerted Target and the toy’s distributor, Bulls i Toy, to our findings, but they refused to address the problem. The toxic fidget spinners are still available both in toy aisles at Target stores and on its website. Incredibly, Target and Bulls i Toy defend their inaction by pointing to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) declaration that fidget spinners are NOT technically “children’s products” subject to legal limits for lead.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Lead In Fidget Spinners

While lead in toys has become less prevalent in recent years, U.S. PIRG Education Fund tested several models of one of today’s hottest toys, fidget spinners, for the toxic heavy metal. Laboratory results indicated that two fidget spinners purchased at Target and distributed by Bulls i Toy, L.L.C. contained extremely high levels of lead. U.S. PIRG Education Fund calls on Target and Bulls i Toy to immediately recall these two fidget spinners and investigate how such high levels of lead were found in these toys. Also, we call on the U.S.

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Blog Post | Health Care

OPEN ENROLLMENT FOR 2018: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW | Jesse O'Brien

It’s that time again: Time to enroll in health insurance for next year. Health care has been a political football in Washington throughout the year, and there has been a lot of confusion and uncertainty about the future. With all of this background noise, it’s more important than ever to get the facts about how you and your family can get coverage that works for you. 

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News Release | Consumer Protection

U.S. PIRG CONSUMER ADVOCATE MIKE LITT TESTIFIES AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON EQUIFAX

Our Consumer Advocate, Mike Litt, was invited by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, to testify this week at a Congressional hearing on the Equifax data breach. This was a continuation of the committee's previously held hearing on October 5th entitled "Examining the Equifax Data Breach."

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2017

U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to paying taxes. Corporate lobbyists and their congressional allies have riddled the U.S. tax code with loopholes and exceptions that enable tax attorneys and corporate accountants to book U.S.-earned profits in subsidiaries located in offshore tax haven countries with minimal or no taxes. Often a company’s operational presence in a tax haven may be nothing more than a mailbox.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

OFFSHORE TAX HAVENS COST AVERAGE OREGON SMALL BUSINESS $5,162.12 A YEAR

Small businesses in Oregon would have to shoulder an extra $5,162.12 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the abuse of offshore tax havens by multinational corporations, according to a new report by OSPIRG. As a new administration takes office and the possibility of tax reform again enters the national conversation, the report highlights how it’s small domestic businesses and ordinary Americans that have to shoulder the burden of multinational tax avoidance.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Proposed health insurance rate hikes up to 32.3% merit close scrutiny, raise stakes for containing rising health care costs

Many of Oregon’s biggest health insurers have proposed large double-digit rate hikes for 2017, and according to new OSPIRG Foundation analysis released today, these proposals highlight not only the need for close scrutiny of health insurance rates, but also the urgency of action to contain the rising cost of health care services.

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News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay, Transportation

Framework for VW Settlement Announced

Statement by Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, on todays announced VW settlement. For more details on what a strong settlement agreement ought to look like, please see the open letter that we released earlier this week with other consumer and environmental groups.

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News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay

Leading Groups Send Criteria for Evaluating VW Settlement

Four leading consumer, environmental, and public health organizations wrote an open letter in advance of the April 21st deadline set by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer for a proposal that deals with Volkswagen’s emission scandal.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on PacificSource Health Plans' proposal to increase individual health insurance rates

Most of PacificSource Health Plan’s customer base of more than 12,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see double-digit rate hikes if the premium rate hike proposed by PacificSource goes forward. Had the rate been approved as initially filed, PacificSource’s members would have seen increases of 15.9% on average, ranging as high as 24%. However, shortly after filing, the insurer announced that the initial rate proposal had incorporated a major error, and proposed a new, lower average rate increase of 10.8%, ranging as high as 18.7%.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company's proposal to increase small group health insurance rates

Most of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company’s almost 17,000 small group members, from over 1,300 small businesses across Oregon, will see rate increases of 11.8% on average, and as high as 19.2%, if the premium rate hike proposed by United is approved.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on Health Net's proposal to increase individual health insurance rates

Health Net’s individual members will see an increase of 8.3% on average, ranging as high as 10% for some customers, if the premium rate hike proposed by the insurer is approved.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2014

This study examines the use of tax havens by Fortune 500 companies in 2013. It reveals that tax haven use is ubiquitous among America’s largest companies, but a narrow set of companies benefit disproportionately.   

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation

The Unfriendly Skies

This report tracks trends in tens of thousands of consumer complaints about airlines over time, finding how some airlines have improved their rankings and others have worsened. The report also compares consumer complaint data with other DOT data that tracks airlines’ on-time performance and baggage handling.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Why are young people driving less? | David Rosenfeld

New report by OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group that documents the nationwide decline in driving—and finds that young people are leading the trend. The report explores the many factors that have led to the decrease in driving among the young. Bottom line: if these trends are structural, as the data suggests, then transportation planners will need to overhaul their assumptions about whether the nation needs (or can afford) major highway expansions.

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Blog Post | Transportation

The Little Train that Could ... and Did | David Rosenfeld

Tony Dutzik from the Frontier Group's latest post about Maine's Downeaster train. Interesting similarities between Maine's situation and Oregon's.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Something's Happening Here; What it Is Is Increasingly Clear | David Rosenfeld

Another incisive post from Tony Dutzik of the Frontier Group on why declining driving numbers are real, despite what some transit opponents claim.

 

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Blog Post | Health Care

Regence Rate Increase Hearing

Health insurance premiums are going up again. The latest request for a rate hike came from Regence for their small group plans. The average increase requested over the next year will be 8%, but some businesses will see increases in excess of 15%. At OSPIRG Foundation, we’re concerned that Regence has not adequately justified this increase request.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Rail: Neither Right Nor Left, But Forward | David Rosenfeld

From the Frontier Group blog: "I hate to call attention to George Will’s latest column – a psycho-political portrait that seeks to explain why liberals supposedly adore high-speed rail. It’s an asinine column, for sure. But it is asinine in a particularly instructive way. For while Will seeks to shine a light on the workings of the progressive mind, he winds up shining a light into his own – and into the minds of the current crop of rail haters."

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation

Portland, OR - Oregon loses $175 million in tax revenue each year due to corporate tax avoidance, largely through abuse of offshore tax havens, according to a new report. The report by OSPIRG Foundation and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, “A Simple Fix for a $17 Billion Loophole,” comes as the state legislature convenes with eyes towards closing an estimated $623 million budget shortfall. According to the report, adopting worldwide combined report, or “Complete Reporting” would allow the state to recapture lost revenue from corporate tax avoidance, which would account for more than half of the anticipated shortfall in the 2019-2020 budget cycle.

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

Every year, corporations use complicated schemes to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—in order to reduce their state and federal income tax liability by billions of dollars.

Meanwhile, smaller, wholly-domestic U.S. businesses cannot game the system in the same way. The result is that large multinational businesses compete on an uneven playing field, avoiding taxes that their small competitors must pay. Innovation in the marketplace is replaced by innovation in the tax code.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

While we are glad that Fiat Chrysler is paying something for damaging the health of Americans and deceiving customers, this settlement does not go far enough. It neither ensures these violations of the public trust won’t happen again nor makes consumers whole.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

McDonald's Commits to Reducing Medically Important Antibiotic Use in its Beef Supply Chain 

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Car seats are supposed to keep our youngest children safe. But though they may protect infants and toddlers during accidents, car seats have a history of containing toxic flame-retardant chemicals.

That’s finally changing.

Today, a coalition of groups including U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Ecology Center’s “Healthy Stuff” program released test results on car seats in a new report, Hidden Hazards:Flame Retardants and PFAS in Children’s Car Seats. The authors collaborated with researchers from Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame.

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