Press Release

General Assembly Calls on HealthSource RI to Recommend Marketplace Affordability Measures

Last updated: June 18, 2024

General Assembly Calls on HealthSource RI to Recommend Marketplace Affordability Measures

PROVIDENCE – The Protect Our Healthcare Coalition, a group of leading Rhode Island non-profits and consumer groups working for the protection, improvement, and expansion of equitable access to quality, person-centered, affordable health care for all, commends the Rhode Island General Assembly on the passage of a joint Senate/House resolution calling on HealthSource RI (HSRI) to convene a workgroup to make recommendations for a state affordability program to make health insurance more affordable for lower- and moderate-income Rhode Islanders who purchase their coverage on the state’s individual marketplace. The resolution (H8332A/S3086A) was sponsored by Senator Joshua Miller in the Senate and Representative June Speakman in the House.  

Rhode Islanders who purchase health coverage on Rhode Island’s healthcare exchange, HSRI, are grappling with a pressing issue. Federal enhanced premium tax credits, which extend Federal premium assistance beyond the standard pre-COVID support established by the Affordable Care Act, are set to expire at the end of 2025. This impending deadline means that, without swift Congressional intervention, Rhode Islanders who buy their coverage in the individual marketplace face an affordability crisis.

Even with the enhanced premium tax credits, many people with coverage report struggling to get the care they need because of high deductibles and copays. In their 2022 Health Information Survey, HSRI documented a 21% increase in out-of-pocket costs between 2020 and 2022, noting this as “the highest reported out-of-pocket spending since the survey began in 2012.”

Shamus Durac, Senior Attorney / Policy Analyst at RIPIN and Interim Chair of the coalition, underscores the significance of the resolution, stating, “This resolution urges HSRI to proactively address the affordability cliff faced by Rhode Islanders, and to propose solutions for review by the General Assembly next session. Rhode Islanders routinely voice concerns about the affordability of healthcare, and the threat of losing significant federal funding means we risk losing our historically low uninsured rate, which ranks among the best in the nation. This resolution is timely and necessary and we thank the sponsors and the General Assembly for their work to continue protecting Rhode Islanders’ access to the care they need. 

“The improvements to premium tax credits (PTCs) enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic have helped tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders to afford health coverage in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace,” said Economic Progress Institute Executive Director Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies Esq. “These PTC enhancements lowered the caps on premium contributions for people of all income levels. Research shows that higher premiums cause consumers’ use of needed medical care, including preventive care and essential drugs, to decrease. If PTC improvements expire, we must have a plan in place to keep healthcare affordable. EPI commends Senator Miller’s and Representative Speakman’s foresight in doing just this by requesting HealthSource RI to convene a working group and provide affordability assistance options to ACA enrollees.”

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Protect Our Healthcare Coalition partners and allies include:  Economic Progress Institute, RIPIN, Mental Health Association RI, RI NOW, RI Health Center Association, United Way of Rhode Island, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, RI Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty, SEIU Rhode Island Council, Rhode Island Coalition for Children and Families, Womxn Project, HousingWorks RI, Rhode Island Organizing Project (RIOP), National Association of Social Workers RI Chapter, Thundermist Health Center, Foster Forward, RI Medical Society, RI Coalition for the Homeless, Rhode Island Working Families Party, Mental Health Recovery Coalition, Oasis Wellness & Recovery Center, RI Community Food Bank, RI Psychological Association, Advocates for Better Care

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