Health Care

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s health insurance commissioner is requiring insurance companies to put more money into so-called alternative models for paying doctors. That means directing more payments toward quality instead of the number of visits to the doctor’s office.

Update: Our Lady of Fatima Hospital has withdrawn its application to open a new obstetrics unit, according to the RI Dept. of Health.

Rhode Island Hospital’s application to open a new child birth unit has been deemed complete by the Rhode Island Department of Health. That's just one pending application for a new obstetrics unit.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Medical marijuana patients are speaking out against what they're calling a tax on marijuana plants. Patients say they’re concerned the marijuana will become unaffordable.

The Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition and the ACLU of Rhode Island are asking Gov. Gina Raimondo to drop the proposal, which would add a $150 to $350 dollar-a -year fee for each plant grown by patients and caregivers. The Raimondo administration says the revenue caregivers earn from selling medical marijuana to patients is significant enough to offset the fee.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island Hospital acknowledges there was a delay in providing the name of an employee suspected of assaulting a patient to the Providence Police. Hospital officials say they’re reviewing hospital practice to determine what caused the delay and prevent it from occurring in the future.

The employee is accused of inappropriately touching a patient. Hospital officials say they’re troubled by the allegation and will assist police with the criminal investigation.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Rhode Island now has access to a new source of information about health care activities and costs. The All Payer Claims Database launches this week- "all payer" meaning that it includes information from every health insurer, Medicaid, and Medicare. It's intended to help state agencies and researchers find out more about what works and what doesn’t in health care, where health care dollars are going, and track trends.

Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC

At Brown University, health experts will sort fact from fiction on the Zika virus on Wednesday.

Zika virus has been spreading throughout South America. The World Health Organization recently declared it a public health emergency.

But so much is still unknown about the disease. Concerns are growing about the virus’ suspected link to birth defects, but that link has not been confirmed. And there’s still some uncertainty about how the virus spreads.

Wikimedia Commons

Women and Infants Hospital has a new service for patients with serious illness, to help them avoid a stay in the hospital. It's another sign that hospitals are increasingly turning to outpatient services to help patients – and save money.

For the first time ever, the hospital is offering palliative care right in the cancer clinic.  Kate Lally, MD runs the hospital’s palliative care program.

Wikimedia Commons

Health care providers are reacting to Governor Gina Raimondo’s budget proposal. Among them – home health care agencies, who say wage increases in the budget aren’t enough. 

  The average starting wage for a home health care worker is about $10.50. Raimondo’s budget calls for a 7 percent increase for home health care workers paid by Medicaid.

But that’s a drop in the bucket according to Nicholas Oliver from the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care. Oliver says his member agencies are having a hard time hanging on to staff.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A budget proposal is like a map, showing you where an agency wants to invest more money, and where it plans to cut. It reveals an administration’s priorities for the future– and holds them accountable for what they did or didn’t accomplish in the past. I’ll be your tour guide for this year’s health and human services proposal.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

 State officials want to make some changes to the state’s medical marijuana program. Under the governor’s proposed budget, a new tax on marijuana plants would bring in some revenue.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A Massachusetts resident has reportedly returned from a trip to South America infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus. But is there a risk to Rhode Island?

Zika has sickened more than a million Brazilians since May, and may be the cause – although it’s not certain yet – of a serious birth defect. But Hasbro children’s hospital infectious disease specialist Michael Smit,MD says it’s too early to panic about that kind of outbreak in North America.

Jake Bissaro / The Providence Center

State lawmakers gathered for the signing of the newly reinstated Good Samaritan Overdose Law. The law expired last summer, much to the chagrin of public health advocates.

The law protects people who call 911 for someone who's overdosing from being arrested.

Going forward the law will protect people from being charged for drug possession or use, and from being picked up for violating probation.

Lawmakers put an expiration date on the original bill passed in 2012 in case it conflicted with law enforcement.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

For every Rhode Islander who has died from a drug overdose, someone is left behind to grieve. And that grief can be complicated. Finding help for dealing with that grief in the Ocean State can be tough. 

Aaron Read / RIPR

The House Judiciary Committee has passed a bill that would protect people who call 911 for someone experiencing an overdose. The State Senate already passed the controversial bill.

The bill would encourage bystanders to call 911 in case someone is overdosing. The bill would offer the caller immunity from prosecution for using or possessing illicit substances like heroin. It would also protect them from being arrested for a probation or parole violation.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Ten years ago this month, Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana. Today, nearly 13,000 patients are enrolled, not to mention more than 2000 caregivers. And 100 new applications arrive every week. Is it sustainable?

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