Rhode Island has a number of recent health care transparency initiatives designed to contain health care costs for health care consumers, however, none of them passed in the most recent legislative term. Two bills sought to directly set the prices health care providers can bill patients for their health care records. Other Rhode Island legislation aimed to improve health care transparency by studying and analyzing patient liability health plans and by requiring health insurers to make their plans’ assessment, restriction, and utilization information available on their websites. In terms of health care market regulation, both the Rhode Island Senate and House proposed bills that would phase out for-profit hospitals’ ability to claim sales and uses taxes, over a 12-year period.
Rhode Island’s current regular legislative session runs from 1/3/2017 – 6/20/2017.
Recent Legislative Developments
|UTILIZATION REVIEW AND TRANSPARENCY IN PROSPECTIVE ASSESSMENT CRITERIA: would require utilization review agents to make current prospective assessment requirements and restrictions readily available on its website. In addition, if a review agent intends to implement a new prospective assessment requirement or restriction, or to amend an existing one, the agent would be required to update its website accordingly, as well as provide health care providers with written notice of the proposed assessment requirement or restriction no less than 60 days before its implementation. Finally, the bill would require review agents to make statistics regarding prospective assessment approvals and denials available on its website.||Inactive — Died.|
|MEDICAL RECORD FEES FOR VETERANS: would prohibit health care providers from charging any fee to a person (or her agent) if the record is necessary to support an appeal under any provision of the Social Security Act or for any patient who is also a veteran and the record is necessary for the application of benefits of any kind.||Inactive — Died.|
|PRICE SETTING FOR MEDICAL RECORD COPIES: would require health care providers that use an electronic medical records system or database to charge patients no more than $15.00 in clerical fees—regardless of the amount of time necessary to retrieve the record, shipping costs and the reasonable costs of storage devices used to transport the medical records. For health care providers that do not use an electronic system or database, the provider would be prohibited from charging more than $15.00 in clerical fees and $0.10 per page for all medical records. Health care providers would, however, be allowed to charge more for copies of X-rays and other documents not reproducible by photocopy and for special/expedited handling fees.||Inactive –Died.|
|SINGLE PAYER HEALTH SYSTEM: would direct the insurance commissioner to adopt a single payer health care system for primary and preventive care.||Inactive — Died.|
|EXEMPTION OF FOR-PROFIT HOSPITALS FROM SALE AND USE TAXES: would exempt for profit hospitals from sales and use taxes, phased down over a 12 year period. The bill would require these hospitals to file a tax exemption report with the tax division and provide annual reports to the tax division and the general assembly.||Inactive — Died.|
We compile state statutes relate to healthcare price and competition, including healthcare transparency, markets, and costs. For a complete listing of all health related statutes visit the State Health Practice Database for Research.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 23-17.17-1 through 23-17.17-11, requires the establishment of a healthcare quality performance measurement and reporting program by the Director of Health for health facilities licensed in Rhode Island. The Director must issue an annual report including information “on trends in health care quality performance measures, identify areas for quality improvement initiatives, and program plans and objectives for future years.” The measure also creates a Health Care Quality Steering Committee; a health care quality and value database to make transparent healthcare price information available to consumers; and includes reporting requirements for insurers, health care providers, facilities and governmental agencies to furnish information for the health care databases. The database project, dubbed the Rhode Island All Payer Claims Databases (RI-APCD), began gathering data in January 2014.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 23-17-19.1, respecting the rights of patients vis-à-vis health care facilities licensed by the state, a patient may request the identity of all health care practitioners that the facility has authorized to participate in the patient’s treatment, may request to see the bill and have it explained to him, and shall be presented with an itemized copy of the bill within 30 days of discharge.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 23-17.13-3, under the “Health Care Accessibility and Quality Assurance Act,” provides for the certification criteria of health plans, including: standard definitions for health insurance terms; required disclosures to enrollees, including coverage and benefit limitations; prohibitions against inducements for providers to limit treatment for covered services; and a prohibition against a most favored rate clause in a provider contract. A most favored rate clause (sometimes most-favored nation clause) is a provision in a provider contract whereby the rates or fees to be paid by a health plan are set to be equal to or lower than the rates or fees paid to the provider by any other health plan or third party payer, which can be anti-competitive by preventing other insurers from competing on price.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 42-14.5-1 through 42-14.5-4: creates a Health Insurance Commissioner under the Department of Business Regulation to: “(1) Guard the solvency of health insurers; (2) Protect the interests of consumers; (3) Encourage fair treatment of health care providers; (4) Encourage policies and developments that improve the quality and efficiency of health care service delivery and outcomes; and (5) View the health care system as a comprehensive entity and encourage and direct insurers towards policies that advance the welfare of the public through overall efficiency, improved health care quality, and appropriate access.”
- I. Gen. Laws. § 23-81-1 through 23-81-6: establishes the Rhode Island health care planning and accountability advisory council, comprised of members of government and the health care community, with duties to do the following: recommend a unified health plan for the state; assess alternative health care payment models; measure quality and appropriate utilization of health care services; plan for technological innovation; recommend legislation; issue reports on the state’s primary care workforce; and advise the governor, among other responsibilities.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 23-17.14-1 through 23-17.14-34: the “Hospital Conversions Act,” recognizing that the conversion of non-profit hospitals into for-profit entities and the integration of providers through networks and mergers are affecting competition, cost and quality of health, requires that a hospital must obtain prior approval from the Department of Health and the Attorney General before conversion. The review criteria looks at, among other things, the effect on the community’s access to affordable care and “[w]hether the conversion demonstrates that the public interest will be served considering the essential medical services needed to provide safe and adequate treatment, appropriate access and balanced health care delivery to the residents of the state.”
- I. Gen. Laws. § 23-17.22-2: the “Healthy Rhode Island Reform Act of 2008,” creates a healthy Rhode Island five year strategic plan to be developed by the Director of Health in consultation with the health care planning and accountability advisory council. The plan, focused on chronic care management, would implement the Rhode Island model, “which includes patient self-management, emphasis on primary care, community initiatives, and health system and information technology reform, to be used uniformly statewide by private insurers, third party administrators, and public programs,” with coordinate reform in reimbursement systems to improve outcomes and the quality of care.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 27-18-8: requires prior approval for insurance policy forms and rate filings prior to use in the state of Rhode Island.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 23-17.12-1 through 23-17.12-17: the “Health Care Services – Utilization Review Act,” provides for standards and certification of health care utilization review agents of insurance companies.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 23-17-28: authorizes a health care facility to enter into agreement with other facilities, third-party payers, and branches of government for the purpose of reducing, limiting, or containing health care costs and improving the efficiency with which health care services are delivered.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 23-15-1 through 23-15-11: the “Health Care Certificate of Need Act of Rhode Island,” creates the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) program. A healthcare provider must obtain a Certificate of Need through a regulatory process with the state when it seeks to offer new or expanded facilities or services, increasing the regulatory burden on new market-entrants but also giving the state a tool to provide for cost containment within the industry.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 27-67-1 through 27-67-4: requires that the health insurance commissioner to issue a report to the general assembly addressing whether health insurers licensed in other New England states can automatically obtain licensure in Rhode Island in order to create a regional health insurance market.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 27-29-1 through 27-29-17.5: prohibits unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive act or practice in the business of insurance.
- I. Gen. Laws. § 27-71-1 through 27-71-15: the “Market Conduct Surveillance Act,” creates a process to identify, assess, and remedy market conduct problems that have an adverse impact on consumers.
- Rhode Island Attorney General’s review documents of current and past hospital conversions can be found here.
- On June 4, 2013, Steward Health Care System, LLC, Blackstone Medical Center, Inc., and Blackstone Rehabilitation Hospital, Inc. filed a complaint in federal district court, alleging that the Defendant, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, violated state and federal antitrust law, and tortiously interfered with contractual relations, by engaging in a series of anticompetitive steps designed to block Steward’s acquisition of Landmark and its entry into the Rhode Island markets for the sale of commercial health insurance and the purchase of commercial hospital services. In response, Blue Cross contended that it acted legally when it refused to accept the reimbursement rates at Landmark that Steward was offering, and otherwise operated within its rights in order to promote its business interests. The federal court, on February 19. 2014, denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case. The plaintiffs in California putative class action Sidibe v. Sutter cited to this court’s denial in arguing against Sutter’s motion to dismiss in that case. The Source is following developments in these two private actions, and both are currently in discovery as of December 2016.