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  • Leasing the turnpike would be like signing up for an HMO -- for 75 years! | PennPIRG
    under the circumstances has been given The contract is full of such potential compensation events with subjective words such as reasonably believed imminent and material that provide ample opportunity for disagreement No doubt the state often would have to pay compensation or spend time and money deciding whether to pay or to litigate differences of opinion The state s liability for compensation events would fundamentally alter the way the Pennsylvania government functions regarding anything related to the turnpike Even some things with only indirect impact on turnpike revenues could become compensation events Now emergency responders react as best they can in a crisis but the contract would force them to hesitate Is it clear that this situation is a serious threat worth impeding the flow of traffic and tolls Could it be proved that it was reasonable to believe there was an imminent threat Such situations could arise many times a day and the private operator could claim that many actions even new policies and laws cause them to lose revenue Decisions now based on choosing the correct course of action would be muddied by the possibility of litigation and compensation This loss of autonomy and control would persist for the 75 years the commonwealth would be locked into this contract a contract that would sever one part of government from the rest Given the length of the contract and the private company s desire to guarantee a profit both parties have tried to anticipate all problems But there is no way to predict specify and manage the future technologies and unknown risks for the four generations of Pennsylvanians who will live under this contract Furthermore the private operator s desire for a steady stream of toll paying traffic may conflict with the interests of the citizens of Pennsylvania The Associated Press reported in 2006 that Indiana fire officials challenged the safety of barriers that Indiana Toll Road owners had placed in emergency turnarounds The officials said the barriers could hamper their ability to reach crash victims If the same conflict occurs in Pennsylvania who wins and at what price The profit guarantee means actions that are now obviously necessary and problems that are easily resolved will become complicated and a source of litigation If all this sounds like dealing with an HMO it should The reason HMOs have become synonymous with frustration and refused health care claims is that their bottom line improves when individuals pay more out of pocket or receive less health care A private turnpike operator s profit will similarly increase with greater traffic higher tolls and less investment in the roadway interests at odds with those of the public To squeeze the most out of its investment a private operator you can be sure would have a team of lawyers looking for compensation event opportunities At least with health care there is some competition and you can switch insurers once a year The turnpike deal would forge a 75 year monopoly Don t expect private

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/leasing-turnpike-would-be-signing-hmo-75-years (2016-04-27)
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  • Read the fine print | PennPIRG
    circumstances has been given The contract is full of such potential compensation events with subjective words such as reasonably believed imminent and material that provide ample opportunity for disagreement No doubt the state often would have to pay compensation or spend time and money deciding whether to pay or to litigate differences of opinion The state s liability for compensation events would fundamentally alter the way the Pennsylvania government functions regarding anything related to the turnpike Even some things with only indirect impact on turnpike revenues could become compensation events Now emergency responders react as best they can in a crisis but the contract would force them to hesitate Is it clear that this situation is a serious threat worth impeding the flow of traffic and tolls Could it be proved that it was reasonable to believe there was an imminent threat Such situations could arise many times a day and the private operator could claim that many actions even new policies and laws cause them to lose revenue Decisions now based on choosing the correct course of action would be muddied by the possibility of litigation and compensation This loss of autonomy and control would persist for the 75 years the commonwealth would be locked into this contract a contract that would sever one part of government from the rest Given the length of the contract and the private company s desire to guarantee a profit both parties have tried to anticipate all problems But there is no way to predict specify and manage the future technologies and unknown risks for the four generations of Pennsylvanians who will live under this contract Furthermore the private operator s desire for a steady stream of toll paying traffic may conflict with the interests of the citizens of Pennsylvania The Associated Press reported in 2006 that Indiana fire officials challenged the safety of barriers that Indiana Toll Road owners had placed in emergency turnarounds The officials said the barriers could hamper their ability to reach crash victims If the same conflict occurs in Pennsylvania who wins and at what price The profit guarantee means actions that are now obviously necessary and problems that are easily resolved will become complicated and a source of litigation If all this sounds like dealing with an HMO it should The reason HMOs have become synonymous with frustration and refused health care claims is that their bottom line improves when individuals pay more out of pocket or receive less health care A private turnpike operator s profit will similarly increase with greater traffic higher tolls and less investment in the roadway interests at odds with those of the public To squeeze the most out of its investment a private operator you can be sure would have a team of lawyers looking for compensation event opportunities At least with health care there is some competition and you can switch insurers once a year The turnpike deal would forge a 75 year monopoly Don t expect private turnpike executives

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/media/pap/read-fine-print (2016-04-27)
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  • House Finance Committee Holds Hearing on "Combined Reporting" to Level the Playing Field on Taxes | PennPIRG
    gross domestic product almost 62 percent of the domestic economy would be covered if Governors Granholm Culver Patrick Easley and Rendell have their way Governors and legislators are acting now because of three factors When multi state businesses fail to pay their taxes regular households and companies without high priced accountants end up picking up the tab Public opinion has shifted post Enron and WorldCom In addition to these infamous meltdowns related to tax avoidance earlier this year a much discussed expose in the Wall Street Journal described how 14 states are suing Wal Mart for avoiding taxes by sending profits to a tax free real estate trust owned by itself and its top brass State attempts to prohibit individual tax dodges instead of creating a comprehensive combined reporting system have failed to keep up with private tax lawyers ability to invent new loopholes This tax reform does away with a thousand tax loopholes at once said Baxandall As more states catch on fewer companies will waste their time on sham transactions and fake subsidiaries Years from now people will shake their heads that states ever tried to collect taxes the old way The Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group PennPIRG is a non profit consumer advocacy group representing 3 500 citizen members across the state PennPIRG has offices in Philadelphia and Harrisburg For more information visit www pennpirg org 1 States using combined reporting for corporate income taxes in 2004 were as follows with percent of GDP listed Alaska 0 3 Arizona 1 7 California 13 1 Colorado 1 7 Hawaii 0 4 Idaho 0 4 Illinois 4 5 Kansas 0 9 Maine 0 4 Minnesota 1 9 Montana 0 2 North Dakota 0 2 Nebraska 0 6 New Hampshire 0 4 Oregon 1 2 and Utah 0 7 and

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/house-finance-committee-holds-hearing-combined-reporting-level-playing-field-taxes (2016-04-27)
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  • PennPIRG | Standing Up To Powerful Interests
    largest urbanized areas for which up to date and accurate data are available Keep Reading Media Hit Consumer Protection Safety Group s Annual Report Lists Latest Unsafe Holiday Toys CBS News Philadelphia covers PennPIRG s release of the 28th annual Trouble in Toyland report Keep Reading Pages first previous 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 next last Media Hit Food Consumer Activists Say US Government Is Promoting Obesity PHILADELPHIA CBS A local activist group says if the government wants to battle childhood obesity cutting subsidies to corn farmers would be a good start Keep Reading News Release PennPIRG and National Taxpayers Union Budget Unlikely Allies Uncover 1 Trillion in Savings for Super Committee PHILADELPHIA PA As the Congressional Super Committee begins its search for 1 5 trillion in deficit reduction a new study released today by the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group PennPIRG and the National Taxpayers Union NTU provides the panel with a great place to start more than 1 trillion of spending cuts with appeal from across the political spectrum Keep Reading News Release Budget Consumer Protection Financial Reform New Consumer Agency Takes Over Thursday as Nation s Consumer Bank Cop Philadelphia PA Leading consumer groups today announced the results of a poll showing that an overwhelming majority of likely voters both support a new consumer agency 74 and want Wall Street held accountable 77 along with a report documenting 10 reasons consumers need the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau The Bureau will take over enforcement of all major consumer laws on Thursday July 21 The groups called for the Senate to vote to confirm former Ohio Attorney General Rich Cordray as its director so that the CFPB is able to fulfill the promise of consumer financial protection Keep Reading News Release Budget Tax Offshore Tax Havens Cost Pennsylvania Taxpayers 464 a Year PHILADELPHIA April 18 Major corporations and some individuals avoid a total of as much as 100 billion a year in federal taxes by off shoring the profits they make here in the U S or by setting up sham headquarters in tax haven countries As a result Pennsylvania taxpayers are left footing the bill Keep Reading Media Hit Tax Businesses in Pa ought to pay their fair share But while we pay our fair share to sustain public priorities like education and transportation infrastructure the majority of companies that do business in Pennsylvania won t pay any state income tax Keep Reading Pages first previous 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 next last Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Make a Donation Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Our Federation Featured Position PennPIRG Internship Work on some of the hottest political

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/home?page=18 (2016-04-27)
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  • PennPIRG | Standing Up To Powerful Interests
    Keep Reading News Release Budget Consumer Protection Financial Reform New Survey Shows Banks Still Hiding Fees from Consumers PHILADELPHIA April 12 A survey released today by the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group of more than 350 bank branches revealed that fewer than half of branches obeyed their legal duty to fully disclose fees to prospective customers while one in four provided no fee information at all Keep Reading News Release Transportation Hundreds of Local Businesses Endorse More and Better Public Transportation PHILADELPHIA PA Nearly 400 small business owners church leaders and local elected officials have teamed up with PennPIRG the statewide consumer advocacy group to endorse 21st century transportation in Pennsylvania Keep Reading News Release PennPIRG Safe Energy Tragedy in Japan a Terrifying Reminder of the Risks of Nuclear Power Philadelphia PA Mar 16 Statement of PennPIRG State Director Megan DeSmedt in response to the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Keep Reading News Release PennPIRG Higher Ed PennPIRG Urges Senator Casey to Support Student Aid Reform Today PennPIRG announced that it will urge students and families to call Senator Casey in support of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act SAFRA In response to a multi million dollar lobbying campaign by the student loan industry some Senators are opposing SAFRA a common sense plan that would cut government waste make college more affordable for hundreds of thousands of students invest in our colleges and expand our economy Keep Reading Pages first previous 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 next last Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/home?page=19 (2016-04-27)
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  • PennPIRG | Standing Up To Powerful Interests
    the drug prices paid by tens of millions of Americans Keep Reading Pages first previous 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 next last News Release PennPIRG Education Fund Transportation Mad Men Make Online Pitch for High Speed Rail WASHINGTON March 9 Two lead actors from the hit television show Mad Men throw their support behind high speed rail in a humorous new online video posted today on Funnyordie com The actors and U S PIRG a national advocacy organization developed the video in conjunction with the popular online video site as a way to reach new audiences and build excitement for high speed rail projects around the country Keep Reading Media Hit Budget Philadelphia Group Says US House Isn t Budget Cutting In Public s Interest Tough choices should only come after easy ones she told KYW Newsradio today And it s hard to imagine how cuts to Pell grants food safety and clean water standards came before eliminating wasteful subsidies and closing corporate tax loopholes and handouts for companies like BP Goldman Sachs and Exxon Mobil Keep Reading Media Hit Budget Transportation Pennsylvania should proceed with caution when it comes to privatizing its infrastructure Cash strapped governments across Pennsylvania are struggling to plug holes blown in their budgets by the economic downturn while the state s infrastructure remains in desperate need of maintenance and repair Pennsylvania s Legislature must address our transportation funding crisis but it must proceed with caution Vital public assets should be operated for the public interest Keep Reading News Release Health Care Nationwide study of new health exchanges shows Pennsylvania how to lower costs for consumers Philadelphia PA Many states are creating health exchanges to deliver better value for consumers and Pennsylvania should follow their lead according to Making the Grade a new report by PennPIRG Health exchanges are competitive marketplaces that can empower individuals and small businesses with better more affordable options for coverage Under the federal health reform law each state will have an exchange up and running in 2014 Keep Reading Media Hit Food PennPIRG urges Senate to pass bill to strengthen FDA A coalition of consumer groups says that a steady stream of food recalls including last month s pullback of more than half a billion eggs by two Iowa producers shows how urgent it is for Congress to require regular inspections of production facilities and to give the Food and Drug Administration authority to order food recalls Keep Reading Pages first previous 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 next last Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Make a Donation Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Our Federation Featured Position PennPIRG Internship Work on some of the

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/home?page=20 (2016-04-27)
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  • PennPIRG | Standing Up To Powerful Interests
    PennPIRG Food Tax Apples to Twinkies Federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup at a rate that would buy 20 Twinkies for each taxpayer every year according to Penn PIRG s new report Apples to Twinkies 2013 Meanwhile subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy just one half of an apple per taxpayer per year Keep Reading News Release PennPIRG Education Fund Transportation New Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less In a first of its kind study PennPIRG compiled nation wide evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Americans to drive less Keep Reading Pages first previous 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 next last Media Hit Food PennPIRG urges Senate to pass bill to strengthen FDA A coalition of consumer groups says that a steady stream of food recalls including last month s pullback of more than half a billion eggs by two Iowa producers shows how urgent it is for Congress to require regular inspections of production facilities and to give the Food and Drug Administration authority to order food recalls Keep Reading Media Hit Food Food for thought Report details 85 safety recalls Tainted cheese lettuce and waffles are among the 56 food recalls that have affected Pennsylvania since stronger food safety legislation stalled in Congress in July 2009 according to a study released this week Keep Reading Media Hit Food PennPIRG urges Senate to pass food recall legislation The U S Senate s handling of food safety protections was called into question Wednesday in a study released by PennPIRG the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Science in the Public Interest Keep Reading Media Hit Food Local Group Calls for Stronger Food Safety Laws Alana Miller right with PennPIRG the Public Interest Research Group of Pennsylvania says Congress must pass the FDA Food Modernization Act Keep Reading Media Hit Tax A TAXING PROBLEM The average Pennsylvania family makes 50 702 a year and pays roughly 1 556 in state income taxes Corporations that make millions of dollars in Pennsylvania often face a far lower state income tax bill In fact 71 percent pay nothing at all Keep Reading Pages first previous 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 next last Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Make a Donation Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Our Federation Featured Position PennPIRG Internship Work on some of the hottest political issues of the day from fighting the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms to promoting campaign finance reform and tackling Citizens United improving voter access for students and underrepresented

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/home?page=21 (2016-04-27)
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  • SO YOU NEED HEALTH INSURANCE. NOW WHAT? | PennPIRG
    fill out your application at the Health Insurance Marketplace you ll find out if you and your family qualify What are the Costs Once you ve narrowed down your options to several plans take a look at the specific costs of each plan It s important to consider not only the monthly premium but the potential out of pocket costs as well That way you can get a sense of the total cost you might face over the course of a year The specific out of pocket costs to look at are co pays deductibles and co insurance You ll also want to make special note of the out of pocket maximum For definitions of these terms see the section on Health Insurance Basics Here s a simple formula to see what you could have to pay in a year in a worst case scenario if you have a major illness or accident Monthly Premium x 12 months Out of Pocket Maximum Worst case scenario yearly cost Compare Plans Side by Side At the Health Insurance Marketplace you can compare plans based on a number of factors You can look at premiums and out of pocket costs and see which health care providers and hospitals are available in each plan In some states you can already compare quality ratings of the different plans and in others the quality rating will be added in future years BRONZE SILVER GOLD AND PLATINUM In the past it was practically impossible to compare insurance plans apples to apples with seemingly infinite combinations of premiums co pays deductibles annual coverage limits co insurance levels and out of pocket maximum amounts In the marketplace you can take advantage of the fact that the insurance plans have been neatly sorted into categories so you can compare them more easily The categories are Bronze Silver Gold and Platinum The categories are not based on the quality of care or the amount of care you can receive They are based on how much of your medical costs you pay and how much the insurance company pays As a general rule the higher the monthly premium the lower your out of pocket costs will be if you need care Platinum plans will generally have the highest premiums but if you need care you ll pay less in out of pocket costs Bronze plans will generally have lower premiums but you ll pay more in out of pocket costs if you need care If you think you ll need a lot of care in the year ahead it might make sense to pay a somewhat higher monthly premium and get a Gold or Platinum plan and know that you ll face lower out of pocket costs when you receive care On the other hand if you don t think you ll need much care you may want to pay a lower monthly premium and get a Bronze or Silver plan and risk the chance that you might get hit with higher out of pocket costs if you have an unexpected illness or accident CATASTROPHIC PLANS In addition to the Bronze Silver Gold and Platinum plans if you re under 30 or if you otherwise qualify by having a limited income that makes other coverage unaffordable you may buy a catastrophic plan These plans have lower premiums and they cover preventive care and three primary care visits per year with no co pay But if you need more care you ll face significant out of pocket costs That s because a catastrophic plan requires you to pay 100 of the cost of your medical care until you ve paid a certain amount often several thousand dollars These plans protect you from worst case scenarios where you d otherwise be on the hook for medical care costing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars hence the name catastrophic It s also important to note that if you choose a catastrophic plan you won t be able to qualify for financial help through the marketplace What Health Care Providers Can You See When you are comparing plans take advantage of the fact that each plan will include a list of health care providers This is the plan s provider network If you visit a provider that isn t part of this network you ll pay higher costs so if you already have a doctor check to see if they are included in the plan you are considering Different types of insurance plans have different rules about whether you can get care outside of their provider network and still get the cost covered and at what cost HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATION HMO An HMO typically only covers care if you visit a provider in their provider network You may be on the hook for the full cost of care if you use a health provider outside of the network In addition if you want to see a specialist in the network you may need to get a referral from your primary care provider PREFERRED PROVIDER ORGANIZATION PPO A PPO covers care from providers both inside and outside the network However if you us a provider outside the network you ll pay higher out of pocket costs for that care You can see a specialist inside or outside the network without a referral How Does the Quality Stack Up Unfortunately when it comes to health care cost rarely tells you anything about quality Few things are more important than your health but for a long time there has been too little information about health care safety and quality available for consumers Now that s changing In many states the new marketplace includes tools to help you compare the quality of insurance plans and their provider networks In other states this information will become available in future years GREAT RESOURCES Health Plan Report Card Check out quality ratings of the health insurance plans you are considering and compare them head to head on things like how well they

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/resources/paf/so-you-need-health-insurance-now-what (2016-04-27)
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