Health Care

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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.

The Parent Support Network of Rhode Island hosts a conference Wednesday to highlight the challenge for children with severe disabilities, mental health and substance abuse issues as they transition into adulthood. It’s the time when young adults must leave behind many of the services they relied on through childhood and adolescence.

When young people reach the ages of 16 to 25, they may age out of social support programs geared towards children.

Memorial Hospital

Memorial Hospital is moving forward with plans to close its birthing unit, but must first meet a number of conditions imposed by the state Department of Health.  One requirement involves notifying patients before the end of the week.

Patients who planned on delivering their babies at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket will be receiving a letter informing them of their options, and offering shuttle service to appointments at different hospitals, says Memorial president Michael Dacey.

Health insurers have put in their requests for the rates they hope to charge consumers in 2017. Most have asked for increases, but not all.

Every year insurers have to figure out how much it cost them to pay for medical care for all of their members, and how much they think it will cost next year. It’s a complex process, and state regulators don’t always agree with insurers on the numbers. The result directly affects what you pay for health insurance each month.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is joining a group of his peers calling on Congress to fund research into the prevention of gun violence. 

By law, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t been able to use public funds to research gun violence prevention. Many public health researchers believe that has stymied their ability to find ways to reduce gun violence.

Now, attorneys general from 14 states are asking Congress to lift that ban and direct funding to the CDC immediately.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) met with leaders working to prevent lead poisoning today in Providence. Reed is pushing legislation to better regulate toxic chemicals like lead.

The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 hasn’t been updated in 40 years. It’s the law that regulates harmful chemicals, including lead. And  Reed says an update is in the works. But congressional negotiations over the bill remain contentious.

 A U.S. District Court judge says Rhode Island must speed up its compliance with an order to help developmentally disabled adults– or face fines. The order, or so-called consent decree, requires the state to move the adults into more appropriate work settings.

The ultimate goal of that decree was to end the use of so-called sheltered workshops that paid developmentally disabled adults low wages to do piece work. 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of RI

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island has named a new CEO. Kim Keck comes to Blue Cross most recently from 25 years at insurer Aetna.