Your Weekly Briefing: Health In Rhode Island

Aug 2, 2016

Here's what's happening in health in Rhode Island:

  • South County Hospital has just achieved a five star quality rating from CMS, the only 5 star rating in RI, and one of just 102 nationally, putting it in the top 2-3% of US hospitals. Some say the rankings are biased against teaching hospitals, which generally attract a sicker, poorer patient population. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) say the ratings should help patients/consumers understand more about the hospitals they choose.
  • On August 6, Providence’s WaterFire will be dedicated to eradicating hepatitis C, with RI Defeats Hep C.  Hepatitis C is a growing threat not only to baby boomers but to injection drug users. There’s a cure, but the drugs are expensive and not available to everyone. See our extensive coverage of hepatitis C here.
  • Pregnant patients from Memorial Hospital’s birthing unit officially moved to Women and Infants as of August 1st after the closure of Memorial’s service.
  • The Rhode Island Public Health Institute begins a new partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Health. RIPHI has begun buying produce from community growers at Southside Community Land Trust. That food will travel with their program “Food on the Move,” a mobile farmers market, to areas of the state—designated as “health equity zones” by the Rhode Island Department of Health—with poor access to healthy food. 
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is inviting primary care practices in 14 regions, including Rhode Island, to apply for its new Comprehensive Primary Care Plus program. The program is geared toward paying primary care physicians and other practitioners for the quality, not the quantity of their care. Practices can apply for one of two tracks. In the first, they get an extra monthly fee, to be used as they see fit, perhaps spending extra time managing patients with chronic disease. In the second track, practices get the extra monthly fee, but a reduced Medicare fee-for-service payment. They’ll also get upfront payments for comprehensive primary services, including mental health care. Being chosen as one of 14 regions is a wonky policy victory, on the one hand, for Rhode Island’s health care system. But on the other hand, the program may be a step away from those 15 minute visits with a primary care doctor to an experience that addresses more patient needs – and helps remove barriers to getting healthy.