Your Weekly Briefing: Health In Rhode Island, Oct. 18

Oct 18, 2016

Credit Public Doman

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

  • UHIP: Rhode Island’s new benefits system continues to report problems and successes serving clients. This is the $360+ million dollar replacement for dozens of old state benefit systems that didn’t talk to each other. The new system is supposed to make it easier to determine a client’s eligibility for programs like food stamps or Medicaid and enroll them, all in one spot. But wait times for help with those programs in field offices have been exceedingly long, and data mishaps have resulted in extra payments going out to four clients, missed payments for some child care providers, and delayed payments for recipients of SSI. There’s a statehouse hearing about what lawmakers are calling the “botched” roll out this Thursday. Department of Human Services officials say much of the system is working and that tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders have already been helped since the system went live in mid-September.
  • CHILD WELFARE: Rhode Island Kids Count provides updated statistics on some of the state’s most vulnerable children, including this figure: “In Rhode Island in 2015, children under age 6 represented 45% of all victims of child abuse and neglect.” 
  • BRAIN STUDY: Brown University researchers have scored another grant from the Obama administration’s BRAIN initiative. The $1.2 million over three years will help scientists “…understand how brain networks with trillions of potential connections are wired and how such complex networks process external information and enable decision-making,” said Xi Luo, the lead investigator.
  • SENIORS: According to the Providence Journal, in a study commissioned by the Tufts Health Plan, researchers from UMass Boston found that Rhode Island seniors have some of the region’s highest rates of chronic health problems. Nearly 80% have high blood pressure, for instance. And the worst off often live in some of the state’s poorest areas. 
  • BLUE CROSS: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island announced it earned a 4.5 star quality rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for its 2017 Medicare plans. The rankings have to do with “improving the patient experience, improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of health care.”