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.

Rhode Island Public Health Institute

A new initiative of the Rhode Island Public Health Institute at Brown University aims to bring more fresh fruits and vegetables into low income neighborhoods. 

Aaron Read

Just 5 percent of Rhode Islanders now lack health insurance and the uninsured rate has dropped by more than half since 2012, according to data released today by HealthSourceRI, the state’s Obamacare health exchange.

The rate of Rhode Islanders who lack health insurance has declined from 11 percent in 2012 to 5 percent now.

Anya Rader Wallack, HealthSource director, said the numbers show the Affordable Care Act is working best in states, like Rhode Island, that have expanded Medicaid and run state-based health exchanges, rather than relying on the federal program.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s department of health will once again release weekly statistics on accidental drug overdose deaths – instead of monthly. The department has struggled to whittle down a backlog of investigations while keeping the public informed.

Screen shot / Rhode Island Department of Health

The state health department has launched an online survey for Rhode Islanders to rank their health care experiences. The results will be used as part of an effort to bring down costs and boost quality. They’ll also help officials decide whether new healthcare facilities and services are needed.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

 

As school gets underway across Rhode Island, thousands of kids will sign up to play sports. And with that comes the risk of concussion. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has signed into law new protections for patients battling mental health and substance abuse problems.

RICARES

A candlelight vigil on Monday will remember those who have died from drug overdoses. The vigil comes at a time when Rhode Island is struggling to turn the tide on heroin and prescription drug addiction.

In the past five years, Rhode Island has lost more than 1,000 people to accidental drug overdoses. An advocacy group called Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts has organized tonight’s vigil to remember them, and support their friends and loved ones.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Attorney General is appealing to Superior Court to stop rate increases for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island customers, saying the rate hikes are too steep.

State Health Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Hittner recently issued decisions about how much health insurance rates could increase for 2016. Most increases were in the single digits.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s health department canceled a community meeting about the HPV vaccine planned for Thursday at the Middletown Public Library. A department spokeswoman says staff have been threatened online. The department decided to cancel the event after consulting with State Police. 

Rhode Island now requires boys and girls entering seventh grade to get the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical and other kinds of cancers. Some Rhode Islanders have protested the vaccine mandate. They can request an exemption. 

From the Annals of Internal Medicine article: Restrictions for Medicaid Reimbursement of Sofosbuvir for the Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the United States / Authors: Soumitri Barua; Robert Greenwald, JD; Jason Grebely, PhD; Gregory J. Dore, MBBS, PhD; Tracy Swan; and Lynn E. Taylor, MD

Hepatitis C may not take as big of a chunk out of the state’s Medicaid budget as previously projected. One reason? A majority of patients who requested treatment have been denied.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A children’s advocacy organization has updated its legal complaint against Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families. The group Children’s Rights says things are not getting better, and in fact, they’re getting worse.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A group of Rhode Islanders plan to join a national day of protest Saturday morning against Planned Parenthood.  Rhode Island Right to Life and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence say they will be among those calling on lawmakers to stop public funding for the health care organization.

 The protests come after secretly filmed videos emerged last month of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of fetal tissue for medical research. Anti-abortion activists claim the group is using federal funding to illegally traffic body parts.

Health insurance rates in Rhode Island will go up once again for most consumers in 2016. The state’s health insurance commissioner has made a final decision about those rates for individuals and businesses.

Rates for all United Health plans are going up –large employers, will pay about four and a half percent more, and small business plans will rise just over seven percent. Individuals with a Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island policy will pay an average of $312 dollars a month, up nearly six percent.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo’s overdose prevention task force convenes its first meeting Wednesday. The group has been asked to develop a statewide plan to curb the epidemic of addiction and overdose.

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