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Roberts presents framework for comprehensive health care reform; calls on Rhode Islanders to join her in setting a bold, aggressive, proactive health care agenda

PROVIDENCE—Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts today announced her pledge that starting in the 2008 legislative session and continuing through the end of her term, she will aggressively pursue an agenda to ensure all Rhode Islanders have access to the highest quality health care at a cost they can afford. Her speech, which was the kickoff of the University of Rhode Island’s Providence Feinstein Campus 2007 Distinguished Lecture Series, was attended by over 200 prominent business, labor, government, clergy and elected officials from throughout Rhode Island.

“The bottom line is: everyone should have the care they need, when they need it, and in the most effective and low-cost setting,” Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts said. “Doing nothing about health care, standing still, waiting for someone else to lead, waiting for the winds of change to blow us in the right direction risks the lives and the livelihoods of Rhode Islanders with every day we do not act...The stakes are too high to do nothing about health care.”

In her speech entitled, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Health Care: Why You Should Care (If You Don’t Already),” Lt. Gov. Roberts today set forth her four-part framework for comprehensive health reform:

• Maintain what works in the current system: We must help employers find a way to offer health insurance we know they want to provide to their workers and work to enroll those eligible for RIte Care who are not currently enrolled in this federally-matched program. • Broaden access to health care coverage to every Rhode Islander: We must allow individuals to purchase health insurance that is affordable and portable and allow small business owners to purchase insurance for their employees. We must give Rhode Islanders the opportunity to purchase a plan that best suits their needs and give low income families access on a sliding payment scale. Finally, we must guarantee coverage to any Rhode Islander who applies for it. • Contain health care costs and increase health care value: We must work with providers to ensure access to electronic medical records, work with insurance companies to make sure doctors get paid to keep their patients healthy, and work with hospitals, as well as providers, to release quality and cost statistics to the public so patients can make educated choices about their health care options. • Have a system that strengthens hospitals and primary care providers and supports Rhode Islanders in finding the best, most affordable coverage: It will be necessary for all Rhode Islanders to find and keep health insurance coverage. We can reduce the financial burden of accessing health costs for those who do not have insurance, reduce the costs of uncompensated care for community hospitals and end the hidden costs we are now all paying. It will also mean support for providers and hospitals in creating a much more rational system for delivering care. Community hospitals need to deliver services their communities need, not services designed for the insurance companies reimbursement rates.

Lt. Gov. Roberts today delivered her speech as the first speaker in the 2007 Distinguished Lecture Series presented by the University of Rhode Island’s Feinstein Providence Campus.


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