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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Affordable Care Act consumer protections enacted in state law
STATE HOUSE – 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 has been signed.
The new state law, which takes effect immediately, provides Rhode Islanders with permanent protections, even if the federal law is ever weakened or repealed.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 legislation (
) enacts 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 protects the requirement that preventive services must be covered with no cost sharing, and the requirement that insurance policies cover ten essential health benefits:
Ambulatory patient services;
Maternity and newborn care;
Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment;
Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices;
Preventive services, wellness services, and chronic disease management; and
Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
The new law 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 does 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 the bill to passage. It passed the General Assembly June 14 and was signed by Gov. Dan McKee June 21.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request