Health Care

Rhode Island Dept. of Health, Brown University School of Public Health

State health officials are expanding efforts to tackle the opioid overdose epidemic. They’ve launched a web site – preventoverdoseri.org - to track overdose, addiction, and treatment statistics. And the state is re-launching a $100,000 public awareness campaign about getting help for addiction. 

Kids Count

More of Rhode Island’s children are living in poverty this year than last. That’s one of the highlights of a new report from Kids Count – a project of the children’s think tank The Annie E. Casey Foundation. But some measures of child well-being have improved.

Office of Governor Gina Raimondo

Governor Gina Raimondo has announced that the state employee health plan will now cover gender transition services. 

Rhode Island Dept. of Human Services

Rhode Islanders seeking medical or food stamp assistance will soon be able to complete their application online, all in one go.

Wikimedia

The Rhode Island Foundation has seeded some of the state’s institutions of higher education with nearly half a million dollars in medical research funding. The money goes toward 20 research projects that range from studying heart failure in obese people to using mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques to help prevent pre-term births. 

Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island

The state’s health insurance commissioner is inviting public comment on proposed health insurance rates for next year. Those rates include some of the smallest proposed increases in years.

Health insurers in Rhode Island can’t just raise monthly premium rates. They have to request a rate change each year from the state’s health insurance commissioner and justify it.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s largest health system posted a $9 million dollar net loss for the 2015 fiscal year. Those losses come in part from Lifespan’s behavioral health entity, Gateway Healthcare.

But total operating revenue is up slightly over the previous year, as are expenses.

In its most recent annual report, Lifespan details more growth: the addition of more than 200 employees, and a boost in the number of outpatient visits over last year.

Wikimedia / Creative Commons

Rhode Island will receive $3.4 million dollars to reduce lead hazards in homes. It's the seventh round of funding in more than a decade aimed at hundreds of homes with lead contamination.

Rhode Island Housing will distribute the funds to organizations that help identify homes at the highest risk for lead. These apartments or houses built were before 1978, when a ban on lead paint went into effect. And Rhode Island has a high percentage of older apartment buildings compared to the rest of the nation.

RIPR file photo

Rhode Island’s health insurance commissioner says she’s concerned about funding cuts in the proposed state budget. The agency may have to cut nine of its 12 employees, who currently oversee health insurance regulation.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The need for blood donations was so great in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando that Rhode Island’s Blood Center was called on for help. The need remains high, but not necessarily in Orlando.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Medical marijuana advocates are praising the House Finance committee for changes to the state’s medical marijuana program, including the reduction of a steep new fee on marijuana plants.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The House Finance Committee passed the fiscal year 2017 budget late last night. It heads for a floor vote next week. As I continue to pore over the budget documents, here’s a preliminary look at some of the highlights of health-related spending and revenues in this version, as compared to Governor Gina Raimondo’s original proposals:

RIPR file photo

The International Conference on Opioids is underway in Boston today. Rhode Islanders are well represented at the event dedicated to educating doctors about the dangers and benefits of these painkillers.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Maria Montanaro, head of the state’s behavioral health agency, is stepping down at the end of this month. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced Montanaro’s resignation today; no reason was given.

Current Deputy Director Rebecca Boss has been tapped to serve as acting director of the department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals while the agency looks for new leadership.

Governor Gina Raimondo appointed Montanaro to lead the behavioral health agency 18 months ago.

Lawmakers are set to consider bills that would require special training for police officers in mental health and substance abuse.

Sponsors of this bill want all police officers to be certified in what's called mental health first aid. It enables them to recognize the signs of mental illness or substance abuse when responding to complaints and emergencies. And it helps first responders de-escalate a crisis.

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