Rise Together: Building a stronger & more equitable Rhode Island - The Raimondo Administration
Rise Together: Building a stronger & more equitable Rhode Island - The Raimondo Administration

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Raimondo Signs Executive Order, Commits to Controlling Growth of Health Care Spending in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, RI - Governor Gina M. Raimondo today signed an executive order establishing an official target for health care spending growth in Rhode Island: 3.2% annual growth through 2022. This is the latest step in the Governor's ongoing efforts to control health care costs for taxpayers, businesses and patients.

"We've done a lot of good, hard work related to healthcare in the last four years, but there's more to do to," said Governor Raimondo. "In order to ensure that Rhode Islanders have access to quality, affordable health care and that businesses have cost predictability, we need to control health care spending. Setting this target establishes accountability for our health care industry. I'm proud to be one of only three states doing this work, and the first in the country to set a target that's aligned with our hospitals."

Under Governor Raimondo's leadership, Rhode Island has protected the Affordable Care Act and maintained one of the lowest uninsured rates in the country. Rhode Island's individual market and small business commercial insurance premiums are among the lowest in the United States. In addition, Medicaid spending per person has decreased year over year.

"I am grateful to the community leaders who came together in a public process to commit their best efforts to address rising health costs," said Health Insurance Commissioner Marie Ganim. "We have consensus that RI should meet a health spending target that is consistent with spending on other goods and services. Rhode Island has one of the highest rates of health insurance coverage in the country and some of the lowest premiums. We've made these gains by focusing on the underlying drivers of health care costs and by collaborating with consumers, employers, insurers and health care providers to fundamentally change our health care system. This health care spending growth target is another critical component of the Governor's efforts to ensure Rhode Islanders have access to high quality, affordable health care."

Despite efforts to keep health care costs affordable, per capita health care spending in Rhode Island has historically outpaced economic growth. With rising costs, individuals, families and businesses increasingly struggle to pay for necessary care. Publicly setting a target for growth will increase transparency and establish accountability.

"The Affordable Care Act is working in Rhode Island. Rhode Island's healthcare insurance premiums are among the lowest in the country," said Acting EOHHS Secretary Lisa Vura-Weis. "I am proud of the work of Commissioner Ganim and the members of the Rhode Island Health Care Cost Trends Steering Committee. This collaboration will help ensure market stability - which is key to keeping health coverage affordable for Rhode Islanders."

The 3.2% growth target came out of work that Brown University's School of Public Health began last summer after receiving a $550,000 grant from the Peterson Center on Healthcare. Overseen by OHIC and EOHHS, Brown's work includes calculating overall healthcare spend, setting a target for what spend growth will be annually, and performing detailed analytics to understand cost drivers.

"The School of Public Health exists to address important issues like the cost crisis in our health care system. Our team is proud to assist the State of Rhode Island in this critical work," said Anya Rader Wallack, PhD, a Brown professor and member of the team providing cost analysis to the State.

The methodology used for Brown's work has been jointly developed with a Steering Committee--led by Health Insurance Commissioner Marie Ganim, Blue Cross Blue Shield President Kim Keck, and Coastal Medical President & CEO Dr. Al Kurose--over the last few months. The Steering Committee began meeting in summer 2018, and this December, all eighteen members of the Steering Committee voluntarily signed a compact committing to try to meet the 3.2% target.

"Governor Raimondo's executive order and the compact signed by members of the RI Health Care Cost Trends Steering Committee are important steps forward in Rhode Island's continuing efforts to control the cost of health care," said Dr. Al Kurose, President & CEO of Coastal Medical and co-chair of the steering committee. "The commitments that were recognized today lay the foundation for a new era of accelerated work and transparent reporting on the cost of health care in Rhode Island. This issue is of vital importance to the state's economy and impacts the health and well-being of every citizen."

"Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is pleased to take a leadership role in supporting the state's first-ever efforts to ensure that total medical spending in the state does not grow at an unsustainable rate that limits funding for other priorities," said Kim Keck, President and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and co-chair of the steering committee. "We applaud the governor for affirming this initiative by signing an Executive Order to implement a total medical spending target," said Kim Keck, BCBSRI president and CEO. "As a large employer in Rhode Island, the state's economic vitality is important to us, and we are committed to taking actions that support this work, in concert with our efforts to create access to affordable, quality care for all Rhode Islanders."

OHIC and EOHHS will engage providers, insurers and community partners and will issue annual reports to track the state's progress on meeting the Governor's target.