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12/22/2023 Rep. Morales commends Blue Cross Blue Shield for increasing Early Intervention rates

Legislator urges other commercial insurers to follow suit

Rep. David Morales today applauded Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island for its recent plan to voluntarily raise its reimbursement rates for Early Intervention services beginning Feb. 1.

BCBSRI, which is the largest private insurer in Rhode Island, announced the move in response to long waitlists for Early Intervention services, which help identify and address developmental issues for children under 3 and provide them a stronger start in childhood.

“With this rate increase, Blue Cross Blue Shield is helping to address our state’s shortage of Early Intervention providers. I want to commend their effort to be part of the solution to this crisis, and I would expect that the other commercial insurers in our state will also take the responsibility to increase their reimbursement rates and support some of our most vulnerable children. Unfortunately, the agencies that provide these vital services have been struggling for years to maintain providers due to low reimbursement rates and as a result, thousands of Rhode Island children and their families have had to suffer. While Blue Cross Blue Shield deserves to be recognized for prioritizing the well-being of our children and providers, we must ensure that all other insurers follow, even if it requires legislative action. The same can also be said for reimbursement rates related to primary care physicians and dental services,” said Representative Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence).

Agencies’ struggles to hire and keep providers have resulted in waiting lists that can take several months, wasting opportunities to provide services early enough in toddlers’ lives to have maximum impact. Since children age out of Early Intervention at age 3, long waits mean children lose months, sometimes more than a year, of the services they need.

Since 2021, Rhode Island has been out of compliance with federal requirements that children be evaluated for Early Intervention within 45 days of their referral. There are currently more than 700 children in the state who have been waiting that long or even longer.

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s increase is in line with recommendations made earlier this year by the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, and is more immediate than the Medicaid rate increases the Executive Office of Health and Human Services is seeking in its budget request for next year. EOHHS administers the Early Intervention program for the state.

Representative Morales said he will advocate this upcoming legislative session to increase Early Intervention reimbursement rate increases for Medicaid along with similar requirements for private insurers if the state’s remaining commercial insurers do not follow BCBSRI’s lead.

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