Governor McKee Proposes Initiative to Help Keep Rhode Islanders Insured

Published on Friday, February 04, 2022

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, together with HealthSource RI (HSRI), announces that his FY2023 budget and State Fiscal Recovery Fund spending plan includes an initiative to help many Rhode Islanders as they transition from the state’s Medicaid program to commercial health coverage through HSRI.

This initiative would enable HSRI to automatically transition some Rhode Islanders into a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) with financial support to cover the first month’s premium costs provided by the State of Rhode Island’s federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resources. This support, combined with the already available and historically high level of tax credits made possible by ARPA, will help keep health coverage accessible.

“Rhode Island is a national leader in health coverage, with over 96 percent of our state insured. This initiative is critical to ensure Rhode Island’s families continue to have access to quality health coverage during these challenging times,” said Governor McKee. “I believe in this initiative, which will remove barriers and keep families across Rhode Island connected to health coverage and the financial support that makes it more affordable.”

“Now more than ever, it’s essential that Rhode Islanders retain health coverage in light of the spread of COVID-19 variants,” Lt. Governor Sabina Matos said. “This investment will ensure that families and individuals who relied on Medicaid for coverage are not caught flat-footed when this benefit ends. This is a forward thinking and equitable use of State Fiscal Recovery Fund dollars, and one I hope we can all rally behind and support.”

The goal of this program is to help residents avoid unnecessary gaps in health coverage that could occur when Medicaid renewals commence for the first time in over two years. During the Public Health Emergency, the federal government paused eligibility redeterminations for Medicaid recipients. When the emergency concludes, Rhode Islanders who no longer meet income requirements will need to find other health care coverage.

If approved by the General Assembly, HealthSource RI (HSRI) will use the appropriated funds to create a smooth transition to commercial coverage for those individuals who are most at risk of becoming uninsured. The program is estimated to cost approximately $450,000 a year and would be funded out of the State Fiscal Recovery Fund.

“This is a smart and strategic use of state and federal resources that will help keep Rhode Islanders covered and ensure our state stays on a path to near-universal health coverage,” said Lindsay Lang, Director of HealthSource RI. “It’s also consistent with our ‘no wrong door’ approach to health coverage in Rhode Island, ensuring our state programs work together in challenging times to make staying covered easier for our residents.”

HealthSource RI is the state’s health insurance marketplace. It’s our mission to help Rhode Islanders easily navigate the complex health insurance landscape and enroll in a plan that works best for their individual and family needs. Since 2013, HealthSource RI has decreased the uninsured rate by more than two thirds. Today, 96 percent of Rhode Islanders have health coverage, the third-lowest uninsured rate in the country. HealthSource RI is the only place Rhode Islanders can receive financial help to pay for their health coverage. In 2021, six out of seven HealthSource RI customers received financial assistance.