Primary Care

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.

As you may know, far more Rhode Islanders signed up for Medicaid than expected recently. And the state is on the hook for millions more dollars than anticipated to care for them. The federal government is picking up the tab for now for people who became newly eligible for the program under the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which Rhode Island opted to accept (unlike some other states). That allowed childless adults, men and women, earning less than a certain amount a year, to get health insurance, some perhaps for the first time.

Having a chronic disease like diabetes or asthma can be debilitating. It can also be managed with ongoing medical treatment and taking care of your health. But there's a cost to not managing these conditions - to your health, and to the health care system. That's why health care professionals and public officials have been focusing their efforts on helping patients manage those chronic conditions through better primary care. That's the goal of the "chronic care sustainability initiative" in Rhode Island, or CSI  RI.

David Orenstein / Brown University

Match Day was Friday for fourth year medical students around the country. It's an annual rite, the moment when students find out whether and where they'll be doing their residency. It's a big deal because where you do your residency matters on so many levels - from the number of years you'll spend there, to the quality of the doctors who train you, to the opportunities you'll have to deepen your specialty. And many residents end up staying where they train.

Another study seems to suggest that, contrary to previous assumptions, it does.

Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have just published the results of a study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine that looked at all emergency department visits at 69 hospitals between the fall of 2006 and the fall of 2009. In 2006, Massachusetts expanded access to health insurance to nearly everyone in the state.

News from the state's health insurance commissioner (OHIC): insurers are making good on their commitment to invest more of their premium revenue in primary care. OHIC directed insurers to raise the amount they spend on their members' primary care by one percentage point every year for four years. And in a new report the agency says they're going to hit those targets.

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.

Association of American Medical Colleges

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has released state-by-state profiles of the physician workforce for 2012. And in Rhode Island, here are the highlights (see the full profile here):

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

California-based Prime Healthcare Services won approval earlier this week to buy Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center. But the approval came with conditions. One is that the company keep Rhode Island regulators abreast of a federal investigation it’s under for allegedly over-billing Medicare. Another is that Prime invest in primary care and in preventing hospital re-admissions. The Department of Health expressed some concern about Prime’s practices at other hospitals, but department head Michael Fine said the terms of the deal to acquire Landmark should allay those concerns.

The Providence Center has received a $1.7 million dollar federal grant to try to help people with mental health problems avoid the emergency room.  The program could help hospitals, and the state, slash some of the most expensive medical bills.      

Ryan T. Conaty / RIPR

Chris Koller, Rhode Island’s first commissioner of health insurance, spent his last day in office today. Before he heads to New York City to take over as president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, he stopped by our studios to reflect on his time in office here.

The General Assembly created Koller’s position – a first in the nation, too – in the mid-2000s to help address growing concern over the cost of health insurance and how insurers were paying health care providers.

Today is the last day on the job for Rhode Island’s –and the nation’s—first commissioner of health insurance. Chris Koller is leaving the position to take the helm of a foundation in New York City. He leaves behind some significant changes in the health insurance marketplace.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island

The Lifespan hospital system’s recent acquisition of Gateway, a mental health care network, may be a sign of more to come. But it could be too soon to tell what it means for a patient’s pocketbook.

Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine / Quinnipiac University

This fall the new medical school at Connecticut's Quinnipiac University welcomes its first class of incoming students. And the school is apparently focused on turning out a particular kind of doctor. From their web site: