health care

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A group charged with finding nearly $180 million dollars in savings from Rhode Island’s Medicaid program begins the second phase of its work Monday.

Throughout March Governor Gina Raimondo’s Working Group to Reinvent Medicaid held town hall meetings across the state to gather public input. Now they must get down to the hard work of finding ways to save money. They have until the end of the month to deliver recommendations to the Governor.

Is Rhode Island spending more than other states caring for the elderly? Or not enough?

(See update, below, plus a reminder: the final Reinvent Medicaid public town hall meeting is scheduled for tonight at 6 pm at the East Bay Family Health Center in Newport.)

That's a question that's come up for debate at the recent "Reinventing Medicaid" town hall meetings around the state, and in statements from groups with a stake in the outcome of Gov. Gina Raimondo's plans to trim nearly $180 million dollars in state (and federal) Medicaid spending.

Don Borman

  Gov. Gina Raimondo gave her first State of the State address last night, unveiling her first budget.

Explore the governor's budget online.

Gov. Gina Raimondo is scheduled to deliver her first State of The State address tonight. The address will give Rhode Islanders their first look at the governor’s spending priorities for the coming fiscal year.

A union that represents the majority of workers recently laid off at Women and Infants Hospital is challenging the job cuts in federal court.

They get to stay on the job until at least Thursday. That’s when a federal judge will hear the union’s challenge. Women and Infants announced the lay-offs this week for more than 40 employees, including certified nurses assistants, imaging technicians, food and laundry service workers.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

If you’ve walked through the front doors of a hospital lately, you might remember the friendly volunteer who greeted you, or gave you directions. Volunteers have been a mainstay in health care settings for years. But they’ve become an increasingly critical resource as health care dollars are spread thin.

Rhode Island's next governor - whether it's Republican Allan Fung or Democrat Gina Raimondo - will have plenty of challenges to tackle upon taking office. The state's ailing economy will most likely hold the spotlight over the next eight weeks until the general election. But perhaps I could put a few health care items on the agenda for their consideration - and for the general assembly's.

Another legislative session has wrapped up. Health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joins host Dave Fallon in the studio to talk about how health care fared on Smith Hill.

Here's a transcript of their discussion.

Megan Hall / RIPR

The nation’s largest pharmacy chain has been given the green light to open seven retail health care clinics in Rhode Island. CVS pharmacies’ MinuteClinics would see patients for minor illnesses and perform some routine health screenings. But state health officials' approval comes with several conditions.

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.

Thousands of Rhode Islanders have signed up for health insurance in recent weeks, some for the first time. I'm thinking that means some might not be so familiar with our health care system, or they might not know how to keep costs down with plans that carry higher deductibles or out-of-pocket costs.

So... here are a few tools to help you navigate, from finding the highest quality, to keeping costs down, to managing your own health. It's not an exhaustive list, but a start...if you're starting from scratch!

Lots of news organizations, including this one, are ticking off the year's top 10 stories. I'd like to run through some of Rhode Island's bottom health stories, meaning the ones least likely to have appeared on radar screens - but which should have. And don't worry: there's some good news in here too!

In no particular order:

Rhode Island Department of Health

I had a chance to speak to Department of Health director Dr. Michael Fine this morning as he traveled to a conference in Boston. The gathering, put on by the Lown Institute, is "From Avoidable Care to Right Care," convenes "...clinicians, patient advocates, and civic leaders to deepen our mutual understanding of the cultural, scientific, and ethical issues surrounding the overuse of medical services." (Dr.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will hold a roundtable discussion Monday on how the Affordable Care Act is benefiting the state. He hopes to call attention to efforts to reduce costs and improve quality.

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