Health Reform Events in Rhode Island

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Friday
May162014

HealthRIght Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Watch

HealthRIght is closely following Rhode Island’s Gubernatorial Candidates, particularly their strategy for health care reform. Now more than ever do we need a candidate with a strong platform that will address key health care issues such as soaring costs and continuing reform implementation in Rhode Island.

Starting in 2015, states must pay for their own health benefits exchange markets. Rhode Island’s exchange, HealthSource RI, costs approximately $25 million a year and the decision for its funding in 2015 occurs just in time with the Gubernatorial election.

At the April 5, 2014 Gubernatorial Forum hosted by the Economic Progress Institute, democratic candidates offered brief remarks on how they would fund HealthSource RI. (Republican candidates were invited but declined). HealthRIght would like to know more specificity how they would fund the exchange, how they would prioritize health care reform and enable the much-needed improvements in statewide coordinated health planning.

Only Angel Taveras mentioned health care at his opening remarks. Linda Katz, EPI asked the question of funding the Exchange to the candidates. Here’s what they said:

Gina Raimondo: Access to high-quality and affordable health care is important, but RI’s exchange should be scaled back. Raimondo cites the need to figure out if all the services provided by HealthSource RI should be the responsibility of the exchange, or if they could be managed by other programs, particularly linking people with other social services to offset cost. While she emphasized that new jobs need affordable health care in order to add to the economy, her campaign website agenda does not explicitly integrate health care reform.

Angel Taveras: Funding the exchange should be a top priority. We need to invest on the front end, or we’ll pay on the back end. Rite Care should be applauded for providing quality care. The state budget should reflect health care reform as a priority. Taveras, however, did not mention where the money will come from.

Clay Pell: Pell is committed to funding the Exchange in order to protect these monumental accomplishments. Pell also supports women’s right to choose. According to his campaign office, Pell will be saying more about health care reform in the weeks to come.

Todd Giroux: Supports HealthSource RI and praises it as a model of affordable health care that he would like to continue so Rhode Islanders have access. Giroux suggested paying for exchange by not paying the 38 studios loan and that the next $12 million dollar first payment will go to HSRI.

As we keep track of what these candidates have to say about Rhode Island health care reform, we hope people can come to us as a resource and bring us their questions and comments. The reality is that all we need to keep watch over these critical issues and ensure that the candidates will do what Rhode Island needs most. If nothing is done, health care will be out of reach (see Figure 1). Stay tuned for more updates on our blog and twitter on HealthRIght’s Gubernatorial Candidate watch.

 

Figure 1. Rising Cost of Health Care from 1960 to 2000

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