Health Reform Events in Rhode Island

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PRESS ADVISORY: For Immediate Release

Contact:  Betsy Stubblefield Loucks, Director, HealthRIght, 401-580-8075

A Critical Opportunity To Address Health Care System Cost in Rhode Island

April 10, 14- Providence, RI: The Rhode Island Health Care Authority Bill (S2533 Goldin, Nesselbush, Cool Rumsey, Conley and Miller) is set for a hearing by the Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee on April 15 at the rise in the Senate Lounge. Requested by HealthRIght, this bill sets up a long-term structure to contain soaring health care system costs, and set the course for much-needed economic stability for our state. Essentially, the RI Health Care Authority, the entity the bill creates, will scope out and recommend the necessary policies and mechanisms to achieve our unified vision for a system that is more affordable, accessible, and delivers high quality outcomes and health promotion services. “This is a smart bill,” says Senator and sponsor Gayle Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence). “It sets up a strong structure to advance the debate, and gives us hope for meaningful reform.”

Currently, Rhode Island pays too much, often more than most other states, for health care. According to Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, RI spent $8.8B on health care in 2009 – 17% of Gross State Product. The Rhode Island Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner reported that from 2001 to 2008, average employee contribution to family coverage increased 67%– whereas wages increased less than 30%. With the looming threat of median household health care costs set to exceed household income by 2037, this bill and the hearing is a timely reminder of the urgency for consensus on a cost-containment solution.

 “Rhode Island needs a unified vision of a successful health care system, so that all players can pull in the same direction,” says Betsy Stubblefield Loucks, Director of HealthRIght. “Our strategy was designed with input from our diverse coalition members who all want to see our state succeed.”

This hearing will be an unprecedented opportunity for all stakeholders – consumers, the medical community, health care reform leaders, insurers, businesses, and labor – to have a say in the future of Rhode Island’s health care system. With great strides already taken with Medicaid expansion, the Health Care Planning And Accountability Advisory Council, HealthSource RI, and the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, it is imperative that Rhode Island aligns these efforts for meaningful change that promotes health and cost-reduction.

 “We have to take advantage of this longer-term opportunity for health care reform that the federal government is offering,” says Rep. Frank Ferri (D-Warwick), who sponsored the House version of the bill (H7819) along with Coderre, Cimini, Naughton, and McNamara. “All Rhode Islanders deserve a more affordable, high-quality system, and enacting this bill would be a powerful step in the right direction.”

HealthRIght is a statewide coalition that convenes key stakeholders to organize for the passage and implementation of comprehensive health care reform that will control costs, improve quality of care and health outcomes, and expand health coverage to all Rhode Islanders.


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