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6/14/2023 Assembly approves bill enacting Affordable Care Act consumer protections in state law
 STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller and Rep. June S. Speakman to enact many of the consumer-protection elements of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) — commonly called “Obamacare” — into state law.

The bill, which now goes to the governor, would provide Rhode Islanders with permanent protections, even if the federal law is ever weakened or repealed.

“Just as we saw last year when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, enacting protection at the state level is the only way to truly guarantee the rights and protections we want Rhode Islanders to have. We codified the protections of Roe v. Wade at the state level in 2019 with the Reproductive Privacy Act, and that meant Rhode Islanders’ reproductive rights remained intact regardless of the Supreme Court decision,” said Chairman Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence). “We should do the same with the rights afforded by the Affordable Care Act, which has been a target since it passed in 2010, and which remains the subject of litigation concerning preventive care requirements. We want to ensure that Rhode Islanders have these critical protections, so we need to put them into Rhode Island law.”

Said Representative Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol), “This bill won’t make any changes to anyone’s health care, which is exactly the point. By enacting these protections at the state level, we are making sure that the Rhode Islanders’ health care access is safe, no matter may happen at the federal level at any point in the future. For more than a decade, Rhode Islanders have benefited from the ACA’s protections, such as cost-free preventive care and ensuring that those with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied insurance. With this bill, we’re making sure that those measures stay the law of the land here in Rhode Island, come what may.”

The bill (2023-S 0023B, 2023-H 5426A) would enact in state law protections including prohibitions on insurers denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions or refusing to issue or renew an individual’s policy, protecting them even if they are sick. It would protect the requirement that preventive services must be covered with no cost sharing, and the requirement that insurance policies cover ten essential health benefits:
  1. Ambulatory patient services;
  2. Emergency services;
  3. Hospitalization;
  4. Maternity and newborn care;
  5. Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment;
  6. Prescription drugs;
  7. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices;
  8. Laboratory services;
  9. Preventive services, wellness services, and chronic disease management; and
  10. Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
The bill does not exceed the requirements of the federal ACA, require any new state funding or increase premium costs from current levels. It does not change Medicaid and would not have any new impacts on businesses.

Senator Miller and Representative Speakman worked with a broad coalition of health care organizations and providers, advocates and community organizations to bring this bill to passage.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923