Is Rhode Island taking steps to join NICS, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System? Perhaps. The General Assembly has passed legislation authorizing the creation of a 20-member task force to explore the "intersection of behavioral health and firearm safety." Here's what it means.
UPDATE: HHS unveiled a newly redesigned healthcare.gov today, which lets users learn more about enrolling in health insurance plans through online insurance marketplaces beginning October 1st. I tried it out. The web site leads you through a series of questions and presents you with your likely options for coverage and whatever financial assistance might be available to help you pay for that coverage. It also creates a customized "checklist" to help you prepare for enrollment, which includes a list of documents you'll need to gather.
Recently, I reported on Rhode Island's fledgling prescription drug monitoring program (listen to that story here). It's a program that's supposed to spot troubling trends in prescription drug misuse. And as you might know, there's plenty of trouble to spot in Rhode Island, where prescription drug overdose death rates have soared along with rates of addiction to narcotic painkillers.
As far as I can tell from the Rhode Island General Assembly's online legislation tracker, not a single bill dealing with reducing firearm violence has made it out of committee. Most have been recommended "held for further study," a kind of legislative purgatory, although some bills could be revived at the last minute.
Want a quick read on how we're feeling here in the Ocean State? Check the gauges on rihealthcarematters.org. It's a new web site from the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, with collaboration from local hospitals and the RI Dept. of Health. The site taps a range of federal and local data sources (like the US census) calculate residents' health, as measured by a variety of indicators - 100 in all.
AS220, the downtown arts organization, and the Roots Cafe are hosting three public panel discussions about health care in Rhode Island. And one of them features someone you might know from such illustrious places as... this blog! My predecessor here at RIPR, the delightful Megan Hall, is one of the panelists! Events take place at 5:30 pm on April 24, May 1, and May 8 at AS220 Cafe, 115 Empire Street, in Providence.
CharterCARE, the umbrella organization for Our Lady of Fatima and Roger Williams hospitals, has announced its intent to partner with Prospect Medical Holdings, a for-profit health care firm based in California. The deal is in its infancy. But it's the fourth proposed hospital merger/acquisition under Rhode Islands Hospital Conversions Act. And it's yet another sign of the shaky financial ground on which many of the state's hospitals now find themselves.