Reports

Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace

Consumers across the state know that the health insurance marketplace is broken.  Insurers don’t compete for their business, instead offering take-it-or-leave-it deals.  Important information about coverage is buried in the fine print, making it hard to know what’s really covered.  Instead of working to lower costs and improve quality, too many insurers focus on covering healthy enrollees and dumping the sick.  And costs are continuing their unsustainable rise.  Nationally, the great majority of individual-market policyholders—77% —saw a premium increase from early 2009 to early 2010, with an average rate hike of 20%.  Small businesses, too, pay 18% more for insurance than their larger competitors and have seen repeated double digit premium increases.

The creation of a new health insurance exchange offers our state the chance to build a better marketplace for health care.  The exchange can help individuals and small businesses by increasing competition and improving choices in the state’s insurance market.  By providing better options and better information, and negotiating on behalf of its enrollees, the exchange can level the playing field for consumers.

Success is not assured, however, as states confronting the task of setting up their exchange must grapple with important policy questions.  This report is a blueprint for creating a strong, pro-consumer exchange that lives up to its promise of a better marketplace.

Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Tax Shell Game

Tax havens are countries with minimal or no taxes, to which U.S.-based multinational firms or individuals transfer their earnings to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Users of tax havens benefit from access to America’s markets, workforce, infrastructure and security, but pay little or nothing for it—violating the basic fairness of the tax system.

Abuse of tax havens inflicts a price on other American taxpayers, who must pay higher taxes—now or in the future—to cover the government’s revenue shortfall, or must deal with cuts in government services. 

Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Big Banks, Bigger Fees

Since Congress largely deregulated consumer deposit (checking and savings) accounts beginning in the early 1980s, the PIRGs have tracked bank deposit account fee changes and documented the banks’ long-term strategy to raise fees, invent new fees and make it harder to avoid fees.

Over the last six months, PIRG staff conducted inquiries at 392 bank branches in 21 states and reviewed bank fees online in 12 others. 

Big Banks, Bigger Fees

Since Congress largely deregulated consumer deposit (checking and savings) accounts beginning in the early 1980s, the PIRGs have tracked bank deposit account fee changes and documented the banks’ long-term strategy to raise fees, invent new fees and make it harder to avoid fees. 

Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Safe Energy

Unacceptable Risk

As the eyes of the world have focused on the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan, Americans have begun to raise questions about the safety of nuclear power plants in the United States.

American nuclear power plants are not immune to the types of natural disasters, mechanical failures, human errors, and losses of critical electric power supplies that have characterized
major nuclear accidents such as the one at Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan. Indeed, at several points over the last 20 years, American nuclear power plants have experienced “close calls” that could have led to damage to the reactor core and the subsequent release of large amounts of radiation.

These incidents illustrate the inherent dangers of nuclear power to people and the environment, and demonstrate why the United States must move away from nuclear power and toward safer alternatives.

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