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3/8/2022 Sen. DiPalma, Rep. Casimiro and advocates hold press conference on human services rate review legislation
STATE HOUSE – Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Rep. Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter) were joined by the Community Provider Network of Rhode Island (CPNRI), RI AFL-CIO, service providers and human service program participants at a press conference today to highlight legislation that provides for periodic rate review/setting processes to ensure accurate and adequate reimbursement of social, human and clinical services.

The press conference was held in the State Library at the State House.

The legislators and advocates spoke about two pieces of legislation introduced by Senator DiPalma and Representative Casimiro. 

“Years of stagnation in our state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates have negatively affected hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders who rely on a wide range of services. A comprehensive approach is needed to address this situation, and that’s what these bills require. They will ensure that going forward, we conduct regular rate reviews to prevent us from reaching this point again. They will ensure we are investing in the care of Rhode Islanders – and, in turn, that we are investing in our health and human services economy. For our providers, the people they serve, and the future of our state, it is imperative we act now,” said Senator DiPalma.

“We are here today because our healthcare system is suffering a crisis of care that’s only worsened due to the pandemic.  Our system is understaffed and under-supported and it is hurting our most vulnerable residents.  Our reimbursement rates have remained too-low and unchanged for many years and the residents of our state cannot access the crucial services they need if there is no one there to provide the care. We have to stop the exodus of human services workers in our state and I believe this is possible with the proper oversight of the rate setting process and appropriate reimbursement rate increases that accurately reflect the high-level of care and dedication that our employees provide to our residents,” said Representative Casimiro. 

The first bill (2022-S 2311 / 2022-H 7180) establishes a process which would require Executive Office of Health and Human Services, assisted by a 24 member advisory committee, to provide review and recommendations for rate setting and ongoing review of social service programs licensed by state departments, agencies and Medicaid. 

The second bill (2022-S 2200 / 2022-H 7489) establishes a process which would require Executive Office of Health and Human Services, assisted by a 24 member advisory committee, to provide review and recommendations for rate setting and ongoing review of medical and clinical service programs licensed by state departments, agencies and Medicaid.

“High workforce turnover rates are especially troubling for patients receiving homecare, who value building a long-term relationship with someone coming into their home frequently. Seniors cannot age with independence and dignity if homecare workers are not treated with respect in wages and working conditions,” said Bernie Beaudreau, Executive Director, the Senior Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island.

“We have simply failed to address the mental health and substance use crisis faced by a growing number of RI families. We have ignored the economic, public health, and social impact of neglecting to support our system of care. Our frontline providers are working with fewer resources than ever. This means that when you or a family member needs help, you may be waiting for weeks or months. It’s time to reform our system of care to one that reflects the needs of our communities and the actual cost of care,” said Cliff Cabral, CEO, Horizon Healthcare Partners.

“Our social service agencies are in a workforce crisis now and rate setting is critical to             addressing the long-term structural issues for our member community-based organizations. Senator DiPalma, Representative Casimiro and all of the sponsors of S-2311 and H-7180 understand the need for lasting change for our members who are delivering critical and often life-saving services to children, youth, and their families every day and we thank them for their leadership,” said Tanja Kubas-Meyer, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition for Children and Families.

“For CPNRI and its members this is about the inclusion of children and adults with disabilities and behavioral health conditions in our society. We need investments to ensure high quality, highly trained, well-compensated staff at all levels to support our vision of inclusion for all. These bills ask our state a clear, direct question: do we, or do we not, support inclusive lives in our communities? We must reply with an equally clear answer: 'Yes, we do' and pass S-2311 and H-7180,” said Tina Spears, Executive Director, Community Provider Network of Rhode Island.

“The Substance Use and Mental Health Leadership Council of RI is extremely thankful to Senator DiPalma and Representative Casimiro for sponsoring these Rate Review and Rate Setting bills. For over a decade our members have been financially struggling as the cost of providing behavioral health services in RI has risen significantly however, reimbursement rates have not. This legislation provides an opportunity to move toward the realignment of reimbursement rates that reflect the actual cost of the delivery of behavioral health treatment and services. This is a step in the right direction,” said Susan Storti, President/CEO, The Substance Use and Mental Health Leadership Council of RI

Both pieces of legislation have been referred to the Senate and House Finance committees for review.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903