health care

Most health insurance plans must now cover mental health and addiction treatment the same way they cover medical benefits. A trio of federal agencies has issued the final rule on how to implement the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Former congressman Patrick Kennedy says the act he co-sponsored is only a beginning for better mental health treatment.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The head of Rhode Island's online insurance marketplace says she's encouraged by the amount of interest consumers have shown in signing up for health insurance on the state’s newly launched health exchange.

It’s been up and running since October 1st to help uninsured Rhode Islanders and small businesses get the health coverage most are required to have by January 2014.

Healthsource RI leader Christy Ferguson briefed state senators on how it’s working last night. She says the exchange could help drive down health care costs if plenty of small businesses sign up.

State health officials say they don’t know why Rhode Island has the nation’s 13th highest rate of accidental deaths caused by illicit drug overdoses.  They say doctors may be part of the problem.

Twenty-eight year old Ross Ricciarelli is a recovering heroin  addict. He got started on Vicodin and progressed to Percocette. When prescriptions became hard to come by he started shooting up.

"I was prescribed them at one point and I really had no idea that it was going to just take me down roads that I never would have imagined that I would have gone down," said Ricciarelli.

RI's Congressional Delegation Slams Shutdown

Sep 30, 2013

Rhode Island’s congressional delegation is roundly criticizing House Republicans  over the budget impasse. Over the weekend Republican lawmakers agreed to continue funding the government beyond midnight Monday provided there’s a one year delay in the implementation of Obamacare; a proposal that’s dead on arrival in the Senate and the White House.

Congressman David Cicilline calls the House Republican caucus strategy the “height of irresponsibility” and he has harsh words for House Speaker John Boehner.

The debate over Obamacare rages from Providence to Pasadena. As the state moves closer to launching its health insurance exchange, RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses the arguments and traces the law’s Rhode Island roots.

Ask Rhode Island Republican State Chairman Mark Smiley what he thinks of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare and you’ll get a blunt answer:  He says, ``I hate it.’’

Smiley’s position is simple and wedded to his party’s national stance: Repeal the entire law and start over. ``Socialism,’’ he says, ``doesn’t work.’’

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Former US Senate candidate Barry Hinckley and Gary Alexander, the controversial Carcieri-era secretary of Rhode Island's Executive Office of Health and Human Services, have launched a new business, Velum Health, that pledges to "drastically reduce health care costs."

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A comprehensive health care reform bill is headed for a full vote in the Rhode Island Senate. The bill aims, in part, to increase the transparency of health care costs.

Dozens of bills have been introduced in the General Assembly this session that, if passed, could affect your health, your family's health, or the state's health care system.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island

The Lifespan hospital system’s recent acquisition of Gateway, a mental health care network, may be a sign of more to come. But it could be too soon to tell what it means for a patient’s pocketbook.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Throughout the school year, we've been following two bright, young, future doctors. Now, we're wrapping up the journey with a one-hour documentary about the crucible of medical school, set against the backdrop of some of the most dramatic changes in health care in a generation. Listen to the full hour or individual segments online, below, or download and listen on the go.

You may have heard news yesterday that the federal government has released a greater level of detail on the prices hospitals charge for a list of common procedures and how widely those prices vary - not only from state to state but within states, and  even within the same city. The data comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or CMS), from 3000 hospitals nationwide.

Aspiera Medical head David Goldsmith discusses the new “MedMates” health care network that is developing across Rhode Island; connecting startups, existing companies, researchers and colleges and universities.


AS220, the downtown arts organization, and the Roots Cafe are hosting three public panel discussions about health care in Rhode Island. And one of them features someone you might know from such illustrious places as... this blog! My predecessor here at RIPR, the delightful Megan Hall, is one of the panelists! Events take place at 5:30 pm on April 24, May 1, and May 8 at AS220 Cafe, 115 Empire Street, in Providence.

Details on the first two events:

Rhode Island is beginning a public effort to develop a statewide plan to improve the way we pay for health care. Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts is leading the effort.

With a $1.6 million dollar grant from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Roberts launched the six-month planning initiative. A series of public meetings will gather input from experts and community members. Roberts says she wants a plan to help health care providers and insurers move away from payments for a particular treatment or service toward paying for improved health.

Hurd MD et al. / New England Journal of Medicine

News from the New England Journal of Medicine today finds that the cost of caring for people with dementia (including Alzheimer's) will more than double in the next couple of decades. That's because the nation's population is aging, and because the care can be expensive. Most of the estimated $215 billion dollars these diseases cost the economy can be chalked up to long term care.