Health Care

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo’s Working Group to Reinvent Medicaid has released the second and final piece of its plan to trim millions of dollars from the state’s health insurance program for the poor. It lays out several targets for transforming the system from one based on fee-for-service payments to one based on paying doctors to keep patients healthy. Rhode Island Public Radio's Kristin Gourlay joins host Chuck Hinman in the studio to talk about that plan and how it may affect patients and health care providers.

Ken Hammond / USDA

Rhode Island has certified its first lactation consultant. Breastfeeding experts have been helping new mothers for a long time. But this is the first state licensure in the nation.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin

Rhode Island’s Attorney General has issued guidance for law enforcement after the expiration of the Good Samaritan law. The law was created to protect people from drug charges if they call 911 about a drug overdose; it expired July 1st after lawmakers took no action to extend it before adjourning for the summer.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The Rhode Island Blood Center will lay off 60 people by this fall. That’s to help cover the cost of screening for a tick-borne disease that’s on the rise in Rhode Island: babesiosis.

Babesiosis  causes flu-like symptoms in some, but it can be life-threatening for the elderly or people with weak immune systems. It spreads through tick bites and blood transfusions. It's become the top transfusion-transmitted disease in the country, and it's endemic in Rhode Island.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A law meant to encourage people to call 911 when someone overdoses will expire July 1st. An effort to extend the Good Samaritan law failed to pass the General Assembly. Now, a chorus of disapproval is rising among public health advocates.

State officials wanted a shelf date on Rhode Island’s Good Samaritan law in case it had a negative impact on law enforcement. The state attorney general says the law has barred officers from charging people with drug crimes in some cases. But National Network for Public Health Law spokesman Corey Davis said repealing the law could cost lives.

Corey Davis / Network for Public Health Law (https://www.networkforphl.org/)

A law designed to encourage people to get help for a drug overdose will expire on July 1st. State lawmakers were unable to reconcile versions of the Good Samaritan law before the General Assembly adjourned for the session.

The Good Samaritan law protected people who called 911 about an overdose from being arrested for drug possession. Lawmakers considered extending the law and expanding it to people on parole or probation. But the General Assembly left for the summer without taking any action. That means legal protection expires in just a few days.

U.S. Supreme Court

Today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act means tax credits are still available for people who buy health insurance on the federal exchange.

Rhode Island set up its own exchange, HealthSource RI. And because of that, the ruling would not have affected the Ocean State either way. Rhode Islanders who qualify for subsidies to help pay for health insurance will continue to receive them.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The Veterans Health Administration has stepped up efforts to fight drug overdose deaths and prescription painkiller addiction.

Veterans are more likely to suffer from chronic pain than others, and opioid painkillers have been a mainstay of treatment.

Lawmakers vote tomorrow on a bill that expands legal immunity for people who call 9-1-1 if they witness an overdose. The so-called Good Samaritan law will expire July 1st unless lawmakers vote to extend it.

Gov. Gina Raimondo says she is committed to preserving the law.       

"My focus as governor is to come up with a Good Samaritan law that we think is right and safe and encourages people to call 911 to save a life," Raimondo said.

Kristin / RIPR

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) has introduced legislation to make the overdose antidote drug Narcan more widely available nationwide. The legislation would make funding available to community organizations to distribute the drug and provide training.  Reed says it does not address the cost of Narcan, which has more than doubled over the past few years.

Rhode Island’s health insurance commissioner is asking the public to weigh in on health insurance rates tonight. Health insurers have to file a request with the state to raise rates every year. Most have asked for increases in monthly premiums, for individuals, small businesses, and large group plans.

The insurance companies say they need the increase to pay for the rising costs of health care, as well as a proposed tax to help pay for HealthSource RI.

State health officials say bacterial meningitis did not take the life of a 13-month-old Tuesday, as previously suspected. Instead, the cause of death was a rare complication from a very common infection.

Health officials say a 13-month-old Rhode Islander died Tuesday from a rare complication of Group A Streptococcus – the same bacteria that causes strep throat.

RIPR FILE

The Providence VA is stepping up efforts to curb prescription painkiller abuse and overdose deaths. Now there are two new tools in the fight.

Nationwide, the VA rolled out its opioid safety initiative in 2013. Since then, VA systems around the country have begun tracking painkiller and other prescriptions better. That includes a new system to track whether a patient has also been prescribed a class of medication called benzodiazepines, which can be dangerous when combined with opioids.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Woonsocket-based CVS Health says it’s paying nearly $2 billion dollars to take over Target’s pharmacies and walk-in clinics. The deal adds more than 1600 pharmacies and nearly 100 walk-in clinics to CVS’s growing portfolio nationwide.

                                                      

45 children in the care of Rhode Island’s child welfare agency are currently listed as missing. Rhode Island Public Radio learned about the number missing after a 14-year-old girl in the agency's care was found in New Jersey with an alleged sex trafficker. The Department of Children, Youth, and Family says she was lured away from a group home. Spokesman Denis Riel says the agency takes its responsibility for children seriously.

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