HealthSource RI

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line. 

This week Dave and Mark sit down with Anya Rader Wallack, the new executive director of HealthSource RI.  

Wallack stepped in as director of the exchange this year following Christine Ferguson, who helped create the exchange in 2013. Wallack was installed by Governor Gina Raimondo. She talks about successes, failures, and the future of the exchange.

When to Listen:

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A top legislative Republican praised Governor Gina Raimondo for expressing an optimistic message in her budget address last night. But Foster Representative Michael Chippendale said the state GOP also has a number of concerns about Raimondo’s spending plan.

“While it was stated that there were no broad-based tax increases, we do see some that we do not find particularly attractive, particularly the HealthSource Rhode Island example,” said Chippendale.

HealthSource RI is out with its most recent enrollment data.

It looks like the state's online health insurance marketplace kept two-thirds (71%) of enrollees from last year and gained a quarter more (about 5,000 new enrollees). So with total enrollments for 2015 at 22,910, HealthSource RI didn't lose a bunch of customers but didn't gain a whole lot either.

Governor-elect Gina Raimondo has replaced Christine Ferguson as the head of HealthSourceRI, replacing her with Anya Rader Wallack. RIPR reported December 23 how Raimondo was expected to make this change.

Raimondo did not explain the reason for the change in a statement. Outgoing Governor Lincoln Chafee created HealthSource, Rhode Island's version of Obamacare by executive order, and legislative leaders have not been huge fans of the program.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The deadline to renew health insurance plans through Health Source RI is coming up on December 23rd.  The state’s health insurance exchange is holding an enrollment fair today in Warwick to help customers in person. We checked in with a few to find out how it’s going.

Warwick resident Kim Darcy was waiting her turn to speak with a health insurance counselor. Darcy plans to re-enroll. And she says she’s thankful there’s a plan she can afford after going without for many years.

HealthSource RI director Christine Ferguson has penned an op-ed in the Providence Journal to plead her case for keeping the health insurance exchange in local hands. Her commentary comes days after a Projo editorial arguing the state should scrap its exchange.

Health care providers say their patients can’t afford the co-pays and deductibles in their new health insurance plans. A special Rhode Island senate commission met with providers Wednesday to learn more. David Spencer is head of the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Association of Rhode Island. He said the patients struggling with costs are primarily those with plans from the state’s online health insurance exchange.

“What’s happening is a lot of these individuals are not following through on treatment, dropping out," said Spencer.

Enrollment on the state’s health insurance marketplace Health Source R-I is going relatively smoothly. This is the second enrollment period since it opened last year.

Health Source RI spokeswoman Maria Tocco says there were some minor issues with the web site and the call center phones but they were addressed quickly. Wait times swelled over the weekend and some scheduled appointments for hours later.

Data on the number of individual and family enrollments so far are expected toward the end of this week.

Today marks the beginning of open enrollment for HealthSource RI, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. It’s the second enrollment period for the exchange. Plus, there have been some changes.

It’s open enrollment now for individuals and families who don’t have health insurance or need to renew a plan they bought on Health Source the last time around. Enrollment is open through February 15. Plans bought on the exchange last year will not automatically renew.

This week Rhode Island Public Radio's political analyst Scott MacKay joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Dave and Scott talk with Christine Ferguson, director of Rhode Island health insurance exchange, Healthsource RI.  They discuss the challenges facing the exchange as it heads into its second open enrollment period even as its future remains up in the air.

   Do you have insight or expertise on this topic?  Please email us, we'd like to hear from you.  news@ripr.org

FILE / RIPR

Individuals and families can enroll in health insurance plans through HealthSource RI starting November 15. If you're new to the exchange or already have coverage through it, here are a few things you should know about what's new for this year.

Open enrollment for Rhode Island’s online health insurance marketplace, HealthSource RI, begins November 15. Individuals who are already enrolled must renew their coverage.

Individuals and families who enrolled in a health insurance plan on HealthSource RI the last time around must renew their coverage or pick a new plan by December 23rd. Why? One reason is that their coverage will not automatically renew. Another , said Health Source RI head Christine Ferguson is the choices have changed.

RIPR FILE

The major candidates for Rhode Island governor have spent much of their campaigns focused on the economy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what they aren’t telling voters.

All of the Rhode Island political campaigns this year are talking about our state’s sluggish economy. In the governor’s contest between Republican Allan Fung, the Cranston mayor, and Democrat Gina Raimondo, the state treasurer, jobs and the economy often seem to be the only topic.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

We're looking at the lieutenant governor's race as part of Rhody Votes '14.  Rhode Island Public Radio’s Scott MacKay sat down with Dan McKee to talk about health insurance, a Constitutional Convention, and whether the office should even exist. 

Listen to Scott MacKay's interview with the Republican running for lieutenant governor, Catherine Taylor, here.  For all of our election coverage visit the Rhody Votes section of our website here.

The main promise of the Affordable Care Act was - and is - to get more Americans covered by health insurance. But news today about Walmart's dropping coverage for 30,000 part-time workers reminds us there's still a rocky road to coverage for some.

With open enrollment for coverage through the health insurance exchanges right around the corner (Nov. 15), I thought it might be a good time to shine a spotlight on a couple of groups affected.

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