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Lt. Gov. Roberts Introduces Legislation to Expand Health Insurance Options for Rhode Islanders Who Have Lost Their Jobs

Bill to be Heard by House Corporations Committee would Offer Laid-Off Rhode Islanders Affordable Alternative to Purchasing Employer Health Plan

PROVIDENCE—. Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts has introduced legislation that will offer a cost-saving health insurance alternative to Rhode Islander’s who have recently become unemployed.

The RIte Care Buy-In for the Unemployed Bill, (H-5397), sponsored by Rep. Agostinho F. Silva (D-Central Falls), would allow anyone eligible for COBRA benefits to purchase Rhode Island’s Medicaid Managed Care Program (RIte Care) through the insurance company. COBRA gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan, but because of cost, many unemployed Rhode Islanders choose to forego coverage. The RIte Care option will be a lower cost alternative for many, and thus has the potential to insure many out-of-work Rhode Islanders who would otherwise go without coverage. Individuals and families who choose the RIte Care buy-in would bear the full cost of the purchase, and insurance companies would add an administrative fee, ensuring no additional cost to the state for the program.

“Over and over again, I hear of families in this state who cannot afford their COBRA coverage, and therefore go without insurance,” said Lt. Gov. Roberts. “This legislation adds a cost-saving option for Rhode Islanders, allowing them to keep their health coverage during these difficult times.”

The companion bill in the Senate, (S-391) is sponsored by Sen. Charles Levesque (D-Bristol, Portsmouth), and Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston, Warwick). Sen. Elizabeth Crowley (D-Central Falls, Cumberland, Pawtucket), Sen. John Tassoni, Jr. (D-North Smithfield, Smithfield), and Sen. Erin Lynch (D-Warwick).

A legislative summary, and the entire text of the bill, is available at

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