Saying that affordable health care should be within the reach for all Rhode Islanders, Governor Donald L. Carcieri this week laid out a series of five initiatives to improve the state’s system of care by the eyar 2010.
Carcieri’s health care agenda addresses the issues that have caused health care costs to rise at three times more than the rate of inflation and four times faster than wages. The initiatives include: wellness, a balanced health care delivery system, access to health information technology, affordable small business insurance, and smart public sector purchasing.
“We need a common vision for our health care system, a system that focuses on health care as well as sick care, and that engages all Rhode Islanders,” Carcieri said. “This system must put patients, not providers, at the center. This ideal drives my health care agenda.”
Carcieri was joined by Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher Koller as well as other agency directors who are charged with moving the initiatives forward. Carcieri said that the directors were working other state agencies, doctors, hospitals, insurers, advocacy organizations, and the business community.
Carcieri spoke at Atlantic Paper & Twine Company in Pawtucket, a small manufacturing and supply company with 12 employees. The company’s owners, Lisa and David Spencer, spoke about their struggle in providing health insurance for their employees as premiums continue to skyrocket.
“Small business has been hard hit by the dramatic increase in health insurance premiums,” Carcieri said. He said that only 50 percent of private employers with fewer than 10 employees offer health insurance, and 94 percent of Rhode Island employers are small businesses, employing 35 percent of our workforce.
His five initiatives are:
Wellness: By 2010, achieving the first Well State designation in the country by the Wellness Councils of America and cutting in half the number of Rhode Islanders with unhealthy and unsafe habits.
Balanced Health Care Delivery System: By 2010, having a health care system with more emphasis on primary care and a balanced deployment of hospital-based and specialty care resources.
Anywhere, Anytime Health Information: By 2010, the majority of Rhode Islanders should have health information accessible electronically.
Affordable Small Business Insurance: By 2010, increase the number of small business employees enrolled in employer-sponsored health insurance by 10,000, or 15 percent.
Smart Public Sector Purchasing: By 2010, reduce the rate of growth of the state’s medical expenses by two percentage points, improve health plan performance, and use the state’s contracts to drive changes in the health care delivery system.
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