Why it matters

Health insurance must be affordable, comprehensive, and accessible

For too many Rhode Islanders, our system of health coverage is just not working. The Affordable Care Act has helped many Rhode Islanders get health coverage by expanding Medicaid and establishing subsidized commercial coverage through HealthSourceRI. Medicare covers seniors and people with disabilities. Yet too many people still struggle to get the care they need because providers are not available or out-of-pocket costs are too high. 

Through our Coalition's Campaign for Healthcare Access and Affordability, we supported the following 2024 state legislative priorities, with important successes, as outlined below.

Strengthen AFFORDABILITY, consumer protections, and covered services in the commercial marketplace:

  • PASSED -- A top priority led by Coalition staff was passage of the joint House/Senate Resolution calling on HealthSource RI (HSRI) to convene an affordability work-group to make recommendations for a state-based premium and cost-sharing assistance program to improve affordability in the state’s individual marketplace.
  • PASSED -- A top priority led by Coalition staff was passage of the bill to codify the ACA’s prohibition of annual and lifetime limits in commercial coverage to sustain this affordability mechanism that has demonstrated a reduction in medical debt and increased access to care.
  • PASSED -- Supported by the Coalition and led by our partner the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society was passage of the bill to improve medical debt protection for all Rhode Islanders by banning the reporting of medical debt to credit bureaus.
  • ENACTED in BUDGET -- Funding to purchase and pay-off existing medical debt for eligible Rhode Islanders.
  • STALLED in House -- Bill to expand access to no-cost-share contraception to include the full range of contraception and to guarantee coverage of any new over-the-counter methods.

Invest in MEDICAID and MEDICARE to improve access, equity, and affordability:

  • PROGRESS MADE -- The Protect Our Healthcare Coalition joined forces with our partners from the Senior Agenda Coalition to achieve a partial expansion of the Medicare Savings Programs. More work needs to be done to ensure compliance with Federal rules.  We look forward to continuing the effort to raise income eligibility & eliminate the asset test to improve access and affordability for Rhode Island seniors and people with disabilities.
  • ENACTED in BUDGET -- Increase Medicaid reimbursement rates to help stabilize our healthcare delivery system and enhance access to services for Rhode Islanders.
  • STALLED -- Enact continuous coverage in Medicaid for children birth through age 5 to eliminate disruptions in access to care for our youngest Rhode Islanders.

Improve ACCESS and QUALITY in our state’s healthcare delivery system:

  • STALLED -- Address access to behavioral healthcare by increasing reimbursement rates in commercial coverage.
  • ENACTED in BUDGET -- Funding to support the Ladders to Licensure Program, a public/private partnership that provides pathways for healthcare paraprofessionals to pursue higher education degrees and health professional licensure.
  • ENACTED in BUDGET -- Coalition partners RIMS and RIHCA helped lead the effort to win an added $500,000 in dedicated funding for primary care practitioners in the state's Wavemaker Fellowship program that provides a refundable Tax Credit Certificate worth the value of their annual student loan burden for up to four years and an added $2.7 million to ensure primary care training sites can dedicate capacity and resources to growing our future workforce.
  • STALLED -- Expand the RI Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program to help stabilize and build our state’s primary and behavioral health practitioner network.
  • PASSED -- Coalition partner SEIU led the effort to successfully pass an amended bill to establish the Nursing Home Workforce Standards Advisory Board to elevate care quality for nursing home patients and establish fair wages for workers.
  • PASSED -- The Coalition supported the effort led by our partner PPSNE along with action by Coalition partner The Womxn Project and a broad network of Rhode Islanders to successfully enact an amended state ‘Shield law’ to protect access to providers of gender-affirming and abortion care.

Reduce HEALTH DISPARITIES and improve HEALTH EQUITY so all Rhode Islanders can live full and healthy lives:

The Coalition also supported the following bills to:

  • Expand access to safe, affordable housing & address the homeless crisis, including increased rental assistance for low-income households, creating a Tenant’s Bill of Rights, and investing in Rhode Island’s Lead Safe Prevention program.
  • Implement Healthy School Meals for All so all students can learn and thrive.
  • Enact the Revenue for Rhode Islanders proposal to increase state revenue with a new 3% millionaires’ tax.
  • Improve the state’s Paid Family Leave Act.
  • Invest in affordable public transit to support Rhode Islanders' economic well-being and reduce the health and climate impact of toxic greenhouse gases.
  • Require an annual equity impact review of the Rhode Island state budget for potential disparities in regard to race, gender, and disability.