Elizabeth Roberts

More than 75 Rhode Islanders packed a small meeting room at the Peacedale Public Library Monday, to share their suggestions for improving Medicaid while cutting costs. It was one in a series of town hall meetings held by the task force charged with finding $90 million dollars in savings in the program. Nurse Patricia Mackie told organizers how meeting a client’s basic needs first can help prevent expensive hospital stays.

“Cash to pay for prescriptions, clothing, furniture from the furniture bank, finding him an apartment.”

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed her first state budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay looks at the politics of our new governor’s taxing and spending plan.

It’s difficult to argue with the rhetoric behind our new governor’s $8.6 billion budget plan. In her televised address from the Statehouse last Thursday evening, Raimondo outlined her goals in a convincing fashion, hitting all the high notes.  Her smorgasbord of ideas provides a little something for everyone.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s working group to "reinvent Medicaid" convened for the first time Monday night. The group’s task is to find savings and rein in spending to help close the state’s budget deficit.  Executive Office of Health and Human Services head Elizabeth Roberts highlighted some of the toughest financial challenges.

“Seven percent of Medicaid members, people we’re currently serving, are about 66 percent of our costs," said Roberts. "That is a truly jaw-dropping number.”

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo’s choice to lead the state Health and Human Services secretariat cleared her first hurdle to confirmation Tuesday. Governor Gina Raimondo has asked her, in part, to contain the cost of subsidized healthcare for the poor.

“I do not underestimate the challenge that I’m being asked to take on. I’ve already seen in my first three and a half weeks, when I’ve been privileged to serve before I was approved, how many varieties of challenge I’ve inherited,” said Roberts.

Gift-getting, holiday cheer, staffing up and then -- boom! -- a New Year will be here, full of exciting stories yet to happen. Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. Feel free to drop me tips/comments at idonnis (at) ripr (org) and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

Rhode Island bade farewell and paid tribute today to former state Sen. Lila Sapinsley, a liberal Republican who became the first woman Senate Minority Leader, at funeral services at Temple Beth-El  in the Providence East Side district that she so ably represented.

Sapinsley, who died earlier this week at her Laurelmead home at 92, was eulogized by Rabbi Leslie Y. Gutterman as a path breaking woman of compassion, accomplishment and conviction.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State Senator Josh Miller (D-Cranston) joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss Governor-elect Gina Raimondo's selection of Elizabeth Roberts to be the state's next secretary of Health and Human Services; the outlook for legalizing marijuana in Rhode Island; Raimondo's reversal in keeping the media out of an economic summit; and more.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor-elect Gina Raimondo on Sunday said she's nominating Elizabeth Roberts to lead the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services with the expectation that Roberts will make EOHHS a national leader in controlling growing Medicaid costs.

The incoming administrations are assembling their staffs (read on), as time ticks down for the Class of 2010. Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As always, feel free to share your thoughts and tips via idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

Lieutenant Government Elizabeth Roberts is hosting a care package drive this weekend to support Rhode Island soldiers. The initiative “Operation Holiday Cheer” is sending 350 care packages to soldiers serving overseas this holiday season.  Anyone can bring donations to the Rhode Island National Guard Armory this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Spokesperson Maria Tocco said donations of simple things like powdered drink mix, coffee syrup, beef jerky, and batteries are received with gratitude by the troops.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island has been a laggard in electing women to high office. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay  on why that may change on November 4.

By most measures, Rhode Island is one of America’s most liberal and deepest blue of the 50 states. Our Washington, D.C. delegation is all-Democratic and no Republican holds any statewide or federal elected office.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Ralph Mollis is one of three Democrats running for lieutenant governor. Term limits prevent the state’s current LG, Elizabeth Roberts, from seeking re-electon. Mollis has served two terms as secretary of state since first winning election in 2006. As part of our Rhody Votes coverage of the 2014 election, Mollis says his work as secretary of state shows he has what it takes to move up.

Lawmakers are being asked to decide the fate of HealthSource RI, the state’s online health insurance exchange. At issue is how to pay for it, or whether to scrap it. And plenty of voices are weighing in on the conversation. The latest claims state officials were told years ago that building an exchange wasn’t viable but did it anyway.

Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, said today he may become the third candidate to vy for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

Ferri represents House District 22. He was first elected in a 2007 special election to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Peter Ginaitt, who left the House for an executive post at the Lifespan hospital chain.

A little while ago I mentioned this plan was being drafted, and open for public comment. The final product is available now, and it's worth a read, here: http://www.healthcare.ri.gov/healthyri/resources/SHIPwithAppendix.pdf (.pdf opens another document).

First, this document, the "Rhode Island State Healthcare Innovation Plan," produced out of Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts' office, is a great snapshot of the state's health care system. If you want a primer on our health care system, our biggest health problems, and where the opportunities lie for fixing them, look it over.