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Lt. Governor Roberts' Statement Regarding Outdated Health Policy Study on Health Insurance Exchanges

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

PROVIDENCE—Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts today issued the following statement in response to an outdated health policy study on health insurance exchanges:

"Rhode Island leads the nation with a resounding success in health reform implementation. Those who oppose federal health reform will continue to challenge these successes but we should not be deterred in making more affordable healthcare available to Rhode Island individuals, families and small businesses.

"Following the roll-out of the 2006 Massachusetts health reform, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation commissioned a 2009 report on state health insurance exchanges for state health policy makers. The report identified the challenges for states, such as Rhode Island, in implementing state level health insurance exchanges in the absence of a federal reform. These challenges included, most notably, the lack of state funds for providing subsidies to lower-income residents and the lack of state start-up funds to develop such exchanges. Over the past four years, we have overcome each of those challenges in partnership with the Federal government.

"There was transparency and extensive public debate about the establishment of an exchange in Rhode Island both in 2008 and after the Affordable Care Act was passed. The Healthy Rhode Island Task Force, the RI Business Group on Health, and many small business owners, consumer advocates and members of the healthcare community were all active in the debate. The public Rhode Island Healthcare Reform Commission, created by Governor Chafee in his first month in office, continued to hold frequent public meetings and encouraged public debate and discussion of health reform at the state level.

"When the Affordable Care Act passed on March 23, 2010, states were provided new tools and resources to finally address three major challenges in the American healthcare system – access to coverage and care, cost of care and quality of care. Federally funded premium subsidies, a health insurance mandate, commercial reforms and federal funding for exchange development were made possible for the first time by the Affordable Care Act. These factors, the very barriers identified in the RWJF issue brief, transformed the environment for consideration of a state-based exchange.

"Based on initial filings, plans will be offered for sale on HealthSource RI next year that are less expensive than those available this year. There is also more competition in our health insurance market, with three companies offering coverage to individual and families, up from just one last year, and new innovative options for small businesses.

"HealthSource RI is providing real results for Rhode Islanders seeking coverage, for Rhode Island businesses seeking a predictable and affordable way to offer health benefits and to all Rhode Islanders who need relief from the ever-increasing costs of healthcare."


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