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6/27/2024 Health Care Provider Shield Act is signed into law
STATE HOUSE — Gov. Dan McKee has signed legislation introduced by Rep. John G. Edwards and Sen. Dawn Euer to protect medical providers who provide transgender and reproductive health care services in Rhode Island from civil or criminal suits from other states or their residents.

The Healthcare Provider Shield Act (2024-S 2262A, 2024-H 7577) provides broad protections for health care providers who are licensed and physically practicing in Rhode Island and complying with state regulations and standards of care when facing hostile litigation or criminal investigation from other states. These include protections from arrest and extradition, subpoena for testimony and documents, professional disciplinary action in Rhode Island on the basis of disciplinary action taken against them in other states and wiretapping and other surveillance.

“Many of these providers are family medicine doctors and other primary care providers, including nurse practitioners who provide a wide array of essential health care to the general population all across our state,” said Representative Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton). “This bill takes a common-sense approach to protect Rhode Island health care infrastructure, our providers and our patients. It makes it clear that access to reproductive health care and essential medical care for transgender people are legal rights in Rhode Island.”

The law also prevents all state public agencies, including law enforcement, from cooperating with out-of-state investigations of legally-protected health care in Rhode Island.

“As more states have banned established, best-practice medical care, particularly care involving reproductive and transgender health, some states have not been content to stop at their own borders and are targeting health care providers who provide this care in states where it is legal, including Rhode Island,” said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown). “As a Rhode Island state legislator, I want to make sure we are preserving our right and our ability to regulate our health care providers and to protect them so they can continue to provide essential, standard-of-care health care to all Rhode Islanders.”

The law also protects personal medical information from being shared with law enforcement agencies in other states.

“Family doctors, OBGYNs and other practitioners want to be able to deliver high quality, essential care for our patients,” said Dr. Heather A. Smith, OBGYN and president of the Rhode Island Medical Society. “Here in Rhode Island, we are able to provide the care that Rhode Islanders need, including full-spectrum reproductive services and gender-affirming health care. We need the Healthcare Provider Shield Act to ensure Rhode Island remains a state where clinicians want to practice, and so that physicians can continue to provide our patients with quality, compassionate and essential care when they need it.”

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903