From: Think Progress
By Sy Mukherjee
In a striking illustration of the promise that the health law holds for consumers, two Oregon private insurers vying to sell coverage on the state’s Obamacare insurance marketplace this October are reevaluating their opening bids for the plans’ monthly premiums. The reason? A side-by-side regional comparison of all proposed 2014 premiums for Oregon marketplace plans became public on Oregon’s marketplace website Thursday, and showed that the two insurers’ planned monthly premiums were far higher than other proposals. That raised fears among the companies’ officials that their plans wouldn’t be competitive on the market later this year, leading them to proactively request a rate reduction — and as more of Obamacare is implemented, state insurance commissioners expect that trend to continue:
“Posting rate comparisons company-by-company is a taste of what is to come,” says Cheryl Martinis of the Oregon Insurance Division.
Judging by the reaction, there’s already an impact.
Providence Health Plan on Wednesday asked to lower its requested rates by 15 percent. Gary Walker, a Providence spokesman, says the “primary driver” was a realization that the plan’s cost projections were incorrect. But he conceded a desire to be competitive was part of it.
A Family Care Health Plans official on Thursday said the insurer will ask the state for even greater decrease in requested rates. CEO Jeff Heatherington says the company realized its analysts were too pessimistic after seeing online that its proposed premiums were the highest.
“That was my question when I saw the rates was, ‘Can we go in and refile these?’” he said. “We’re going to try to get these to a competitive range.”
From Blue Oregon
By Neel Pender of Portland, Oregon. From 1999 to 2007, Neel was the executive director of the Democratic Party of Oregon.
I had a chance to catch up with Brad Martin -- the Democratic Party of Oregon's new, veteran Executive Director. To all my Oregon politicos and any one who cares about politics, if you don't know Brad yet, take the time to get to know him and support his work. He is one of -- if not the best -- in the country and we're lucky to have him.
It's funny how far things have come.
Today's O has an op-ed about Republicans searching for relevancy and competing against the "professionalized Democrative voter turnout machine." Truth is, it wasn't so long ago that across the country Democrats were the ones getting their teeth kicked in; the complacency of being in the majority and the influx of 'soft money' to fund issue ads had in fact made our grassroots 'soft'.
One of the leaders in the trenches fighting that trend (note: not a talking head on TV or in DC) was Brad Martin -- for years in Idaho and Montana and as part of Gov. Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy. It's easy to forget in the more enlightened, tactical Obama era but it required hard work and a willingness to challenge conventions. I'm proud to have conspired with and learned from Brad back in the day for a smarter, more effective, more focused, more accountable, more results-oriented party.
The challenge today (as I see it) isn't so much to beat the rather hapless Oregon Republicans -- though the Legislature can never be taken for granted.
Rather, it is for Democrats to lead with ample urgency to solve problems -- and problems are hard, that's why they are problems. Solving them means taking risks, stepping on toes, forging compromise and shared sacrifice, leading and not being led by special interests -- friend and foe -- and educating the public and delivering results.
The 'system' has a tendency to stifle these objectives. See tax policies that have led to decades-long disinvestment in public education during a period of meteoric rises in income inequality. The point here is this: Your voice matters.
Brad is 27 days in and is here for the long term. Welcome him. Help him. Give advice and lend your support. Set aside preconceived notions and focus on new opportunities and leveraged partnerships. Waiting for Election Day for change isn't a strategy for success. If you are looking for a way to plug in, challenge Brad to make it relevant and accessible to you, and sign up at DPO.org.
From: Blue Oregon
The Democratic Party of Oregon has a new chair. This weekend, in an election entirely of devoid of drama (unlike the Republicans), the DPO elected Frank Dixon as the new chair of the party. The vote was uncontested (unlike six years ago, when there was a robust campaign for the job.)
Frank's been the first vice-chair of the party for six years and founded the party's GLBT caucus. He's also been the board chair of Basic Rights Oregon - and, as a US Army veteran, founded Veterans for Human Rights. From his statement:
"We're not going to rest until Senator Jeff Merkley, the Governor, our Democratic congressional delegation, and majorities in the State House and Senate are reelected on November 4th, 2014. I'm counting on our campaign teams and activists from all thirty-six counties to share the Democratic story--our accomplishments and vision to continue to build a better Oregon. We won't rest because standing at our borders are the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers, ready to spend whatever it takes to win for the GOP."
In addition, Brad Martin came on board last month as the new executive director at the DPO. He previously served in the same post at the Montana state party, and then joined Howard Dean in DC as part of his leadership team at the DNC. From his statement:
"Oregon has a strong reputation for combining grassroots activism and highly professional campaigns at the county and state level. I'm excited to join Oregon's Democratic team as we look forward to 2014. Together, we'll hold the seats of Senator Jeff Merkley, Governor John Kitzhaber, and our Democratic Congressional delegation, keep our majorities in the Oregon State House and Senate, and elect great Democrats at all levels across the state."
In addition to Frank's election, the DPO also shuffled a few other board spots. Washington County's Karen Packer moves up to first vice-chair from the second slot. And Deschutes County's Wayne Kinney slides into the second vice-chair spot after several years as the DNC Committeman. Tanya Shively remains DPO secretary and Douglas County's Lorna Hayden is the new state party treasurer.
Saying Goodby to our Campaign Office
We need to be out of our campaign office on Saturday, Nov. 10. It's been a great location for us, but now its time to say goodby to this terriffic space.
Many of you donated furniture and fixtures for us to use during the campaign. Thank you so much for helping us put together one of best offices in the state. Now its time to take your stuff back. If you want your things back, please pick them up after 2 p.m. on Friday, or 10 a.m. on Saturday. Anything left here after 2 p.m. on Saturday is going to be donated to a second-hand store.
If you are unable to get your stuff, call me and we'll work something out. If you want to help us take everything apart, be at the office on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. If anyone has a truck and is willing to help us haul things to storage or second-hand stores, or the dump, we need your help.