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Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee Announces Joint Healthcare Task Force to be Chaired by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts

Providence, R.I.—Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee announced today his plans to enact an Executive Order in the early days of his administration establishing a Joint Healthcare Task Force to be chaired by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts. The goal of the task force will be to ensure that Rhode Island is well prepared for the coming national healthcare reforms, which Chafee stressed during his gubernatorial campaign.

“Adapting to and preparing for the coming reforms is a highly complex and significant task,” Chafee said. “Lieutenant Governor Roberts has decades of experience working on healthcare-related issues, and as such she is well-positioned to lead this task force. The Lieutenant Governor knows, as I do, that this topic is too important to fall victim to partisan politics. This task force will be filled with those who are best able to address all facets of the issue in an orderly, efficient, and advantageous manner – regardless of their political affiliation. Lieutenant Governor Roberts and I agree that this is an opportunity to put politics aside and put the people of Rhode Island first.”

“I'm honored to chair this important effort on behalf of Governor-elect Chafee,” Roberts said. “Health care is a crucial issue in our state budget, and we must get the reforms right for Rhode Island families and businesses. I’m proud to partner with our new Governor to make that happen.”

Lieutenant Governor Roberts has been deeply involved with healthcare for nearly three decades. She holds an MBA in health care management from Boston University, and during her ten years in the Rhode Island State Senate Roberts served as Co-Chair of the Permanent Joint Committee on Healthcare Oversight and Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. More recently, Roberts launched the Healthy R.I. Task Force, an advisory work group of representatives from the medical community, the insurance industry, hospitals, business owners, labor leaders, consumers, advocates and other stakeholders. This broad-based group has worked with Roberts over several months as she moves the state toward an affordable plan to insure all Rhode Islanders. The Healthy R.I. Task Force built on the Lieutenant Governor’s earlier health reform work including the February 2008 introduction of the Rhode Island Healthy Reform Act of 2008, Roberts’ eight-part, comprehensive health care reform package. In 2009, she led the successful fight to save the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, and legislation to make discounted, extended health benefits accessible to out-of-work Rhode Islanders was introduced at her request and passed into law. Roberts is also Co-Chair of the Reforming States Group, a program of the Milbank Memorial Fund, a bipartisan national public health organization focused on health reform.

During his winning gubernatorial campaign, Chafee met regularly with healthcare experts and stressed the importance of thorough preparation for the reforms to ensure a smooth transition. Details on the size, scope, and membership of the task force will be released at a later date. Today’s announcement was simply to establish Roberts’ leadership of the group, Chafee said, adding that he was “gratified” that she had agreed to do so.

Governor-elect Lincoln D. Chafee will be the first independent Governor in Rhode Island history. His winning campaign focused on a new way forward for Rhode Island, one based on honesty, integrity, and independence. Chafee has pledged to utilize the state’s existing assets to maximize economic growth and job creation, to address the state’s fiscal instability through an honest budget process, and to root out the cronyism and corruption that have long run rampant in Rhode Island and are harmful to economic growth. Chafee previously served four years on the Warwick City Council, nearly four two-year terms as Mayor of Warwick, and seven years as US Senator. Most recently, he spent two years as Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies, and wrote Against the Tide: How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President.

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