Your Weekly Briefing: Health In Rhode Island

Aug 16, 2016

Here's what's happening in health in Rhode Island. (Note: Your Weekly Briefing will be on vacation next week.)

  • Medicaid: Medicaid director Anya Rader Wallack steps down after less than a year on the job to pursue an opportunity at Brown University. Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Elizabeth Roberts said in a statement the she has asked Deputy Medicaid Directors Deb Florio and Darren McDonald to lead the Medicaid program while the office conducts a recruitment process for a new Director.
  • Hep C: The most comprehensive report to-date about the extent of hepatitis C infections in Rhode Island finds the rate is much higher than previously projected. See our report about their findings here.
  • Rhode Island's Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner has approved premium rate increases (and some decreases) for 2017 commercial health insurance premiums. Most increases were modest for individual and small employer plans. Increases approved for large employer plans ranged from about three and a half to seven percent.
  • Hospitals: WPRI's Ted Nesi reports that a math error will cost Rhode Island Hospitals $7 million dollars. Writes Nesi, Partners HealthCare, the parent of Brigham and Women and other hospitals, says one of its facilities miscalculated wage data used to set federal reimbursement rates. But the feds declined to fix the error because it came in after a deadline. The data affects Rhode Island hospitals reimbursement rates as well. But Massachusetts-based hospitals will lose millions more.
  • Mosquitoes: West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis viruses have been detected in mosquitoes in Rhode Island, according to the Rhode Island Departments of Environmental Management and Health. Keep that bug spray handy.
  • Mental health: Westerly Hospital, in partnership with the Washington County Coalition for Children, will be offering a free, two-part certification training course on Youth Mental Health First Aid. Classes will be held on Saturday, September 10, and Saturday, September 24 from 8:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at Saint Andrews Church, 15 East Beach Road, Charlestown, RI. This program is free and open to the public. Space is limited to 25 participants. To register, contact Dr. Robert Harrison at or 401-316-4134.
  • Opioid addiction: The American Medical Association has partnered with the Rhode Island Medical Society and officials from the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals to develop and distribute a statewide toolbox for healthcare providers to help reverse the state’s opioid epidemic. Rhode Island and Alabama are the only two states participating in this pilot program with the AMA. The toolbox is slated to contain data, resources, and practice-specific recommendations to help physicians make decisions when caring for patients suffering from chronic or acute pain and opioid use disorders, as well as for patients needing overdose prevention education.