Elizabeth Roberts


Rhode Island has long been engaged in a debate about government benefits for the poor. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says our state isn’t as generous as most other New England states on helping those with less.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston has heard the complaints for years from conservatives and some elements of the business community:  That Rhode Island’s overly generous social welfare programs handcuff taxpayers and harm the state’s business climate.

Elizabeth Roberts, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, joins Bonus Q+A to talk about efforts to cut healthcare spending, whether nonprofit healthcare CEOs are paid too much, and other topics.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Elizabeth Roberts, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the Raimondo administration's attempt to curb Medicaid spending; the effectiveness of HealthSource RI; and the status of the state Department of Children, Youth and Families.

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.