Elizabeth Roberts

The General Assembly is back, and the political year kicks into gear. Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

RIPR

Elizabeth Roberts, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the Raimondo administration's attempt to cut Medicaid spending and improve the troubled state Department of Children, Youth and Familes, as well as the outlook on the governor's truck-toll plan.

Elizabeth Roberts, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, joins Bonus Q&A to discuss efforts to improve agencies under her watch; the growing cost of the UHIP IT project, and other issues.

Kristin Gourlay

Gov. Gina Raimondo asked a group of health care experts and stakeholders to come up with a plan to keep health care spending in check. She asked them to consider placing a cap on all health care spending, and other measures to slow spending growth. This week the group announced four recommendations for her consideration.

Lifespan and Care New England, Rhode Island’s two largest hospital systems, have quietly revived merger talks, Lifespan ceo and president, Dr. Timothy Babineau, said today.

In a brief interview, Babineau said the talks ``are in very early stages’’ and are in response to Care New England’s request for partnership proposals that was released last spring.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo launched the Working Group for Healthcare Innovation earlier this summer to help find a way to lower overall health care spending in Rhode Island. The group’s next public listening session takes place Tuesday.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Islanders shared their experiences with the state’s health care system Tuesday night at a community center in Warwick. It’s the first of two public listening sessions. State health officials say the comments will be reflected in a plan to improve health care.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State health officials kick off a series of public hearings Tuesday to learn about Rhode Islanders’ personal experiences with health care. It’s part of a government initiative to make health care better and less costly.

Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Elizabeth Roberts and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian will host the listening session at Buttonwoods Community Center. It’s the first of two sessions planned to let Rhode Islanders weigh in about their experiences using and paying for health care.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has asked a working group to come up with a way to slow health care spending in Rhode Island. It's a strategy that has showed promise in Massachusetts.

Raimondo signed an executive order to establish the Working Group for Health Care Innovation. The group’s charge is to propose a way to limit the growth in public and private health care spending. One model might be close to home. Raimondo says Massachusetts placed a cap on spending.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Plans to establish a center where people can go to sober up, instead of the emergency room, have languished for lack of state funding. But a renewed effort to launch the program is underway.

Rhode Island’s largest health care network will close six group homes by the end of August. Lifespan affiliate, Gateway Healthcare, blames reimbursement rates for the closures.

The closures will affect dozens of adults with substance abuse or mental health diagnoses, and a little more than a dozen kids in state care. They range in age from five to 18. Gateway says Medicaid doesn’t pay enough to cover the cost of their care. Executive office of health and human services secretary Elizabeth Roberts acknowledges that’s a challenge.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Today is the due date for a plan to cut nearly $180 million dollars from Medicaid. Half of that is state funding, the other matching federal dollars. To close a burgeoning state budget gap, Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed cutting hospital and nursing home payments. Her “Reinvent Medicaid” task force delivers its recommendations today for finding the rest of the savings in the state’s health insurance program for the poor. Their proposals are aimed at reducing the cost of caring for some of the most complex patients.

Patients like Juana Kollie.

Members of Gov. Gina Raimondo's Reinvent Medicaid task force huddled for hours Wednesday to go over nearly three dozen initiatives designed to save Medicaid money. Their goal: find $90 million dollars in savings for Medicaid, the state's medical assistance program for the poor.

Here's a run down of where the effort is headed, straight from the fourth floor board room at CCRI in Warwick, where the meeting was held.

As anticipated, the biggest savings are projected to come from institutional health care providers.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

In less than a month, a task force appointed to find nearly $180 million dollars in savings from Medicaid must deliver their recommendations to the governor.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A group charged with finding nearly $180 million dollars in savings from Rhode Island’s Medicaid program begins the second phase of its work Monday.

Throughout March Governor Gina Raimondo’s Working Group to Reinvent Medicaid held town hall meetings across the state to gather public input. Now they must get down to the hard work of finding ways to save money. They have until the end of the month to deliver recommendations to the Governor.

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