“Medicaid is US”—Guest MINDSETTER™ Marino

Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Peter Marino, Guest MINDSETTER™

Peter Marino, CEO Neighborhood Health
Baby Jayden’s kidneys started failing the day he was born; by the time he was four months old, doctors had removed both of them.  Daily dialysis kept him alive until a transplant was possible. 

Today, three years later, Jayden is thriving.  And it’s because of Medicaid.

Jayden’s mom works full-time as a medical interpreter.  His dad works in construction.  Like tens of thousands of their fellow Rhode Islanders, Jayden’s parents work for employers who don’t offer health insurance.  And there’s no way they can afford it on their own.  Without the state’s RIte Care program, Jayden’s family would have gone broke trying to save his life.

Just last month, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis revealed 76 percent of Rhode Island’s adult and child Medicaid enrollees are in families in which at least one person is employed.  Put simply: Rhode Island works because of Medicaid.

Unfortunately, the United States Senate has put our Medicaid program at risk with the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).  The BCRA moves America’s health care system and our entire economy in a dangerous and harmful direction. The Senate bill will phase out Medicaid coverage entirely for millions of Americans and threatens the viability of the Medicaid system as a whole through underfunded per capita allotments.  The financial impact to Rhode Island would be devastating and would affect many non-health care programs like school funding and tax policy.

•    The Commonwealth Fund’s analysis of the impact of the AHCA (the House version of the BRCA) calculates long-term damage to the Rhode Island economy in the form of 4,600 lost jobs, a loss of roughly $700M in gross state product, and $1.1 billion in lost business output.

•    Similarly, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates Rhode Island could ultimately lose $994 million in federal health care dollars if the Senate moves forward with the BRCA.  

•    Medicaid provides coverage for more than 300,000 Rhode Islanders, including every child in our state’s foster care system, 60 percent of people living in nursing homes, and 50 percent of people with disabilities.  The BCRA suffocates Medicaid and creates a situation in which the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders lose access to health care.

•    Rhode Island is a “Medicaid Expansion” state, meaning federal money subsidizes the health insurance premium payments for 75,000 working Rhode Islanders.  The BRCA has the power to remove those subsidies, denying working Rhode Islanders the ability to afford health insurance.

Nationwide, almost 60 percent of adults with Medicaid coverage are employed.  Nearly half of them work for small businesses, and Medicaid is essential for these hardworking Americans to keep their jobs.  Medicaid helps millions of people across the country manage their chronic illnesses so they focus on work.  Nearly two-thirds of older and disabled Americans rely on Medicaid to help pay for nursing homes and care, lifting a burden off family members – so they, too, can stay employed.

For nearly a quarter of a century, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island has worked closely with the state’s Medicaid program, connecting people to high-quality, cost-effective health care.  We have seen firsthand Medicaid’s ability to empower our neighbors.  Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare”, the uninsured rate among working Rhode Islanders has plummeted by 49 percent.  We do not want the BRCA to undo our state’s success.

Neighborhood is proud to support a national campaign, launched this summer, called “Medicaid is US”.   This campaign focuses on Medicaid’s impact creating jobs and economic well-being.  At every point in our lives, Medicaid is there to ensure that we and our loved ones have the health security we need to maintain economic security.  Medicaid belongs to everyone and it benefits everyone.  In this debate, there is no us and them. There is only us.


Peter Marino is President & CEO of Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island.

  • WINNER: Defense Industry

    The biggest winner in the Trump budget is military spending and correspondingly, many of Rhode Island’s largest private employers will see dramatic increased in spending.

    General Dynamics/Electric Boat, Raytheon, and the Aquidneck Island defense-related companies will all see increase funding and Rhode Island will see job growth

    Total Increase: $54 Billion

    Rhode Island Impact: Unknown


    Rhode Island’s public radio and television will be zeroed out of federal funding in FY18 under Trump's budget. 

    RIPBS’ General Manager David Piccerelli confirmed on Thursday that if the budget is adopted, the station would lose over $700,000, but said he is hopeful that funding can be restored. 

    In late February he appeared on GoLocal LIVE to talk about the importance of public broadcasting in Rhode Island. 

    According to the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, here is the funding to RI -- which would be cut. 

    Eliminates All Funding: $445 million

    Rhode Island Impact: Eliminates all funding

    Including all RI support

    Other System Support


    Radio Community Service Grant


    Television Community Service Grant


    Grand Total


  • WINNER: Veterans

    Veterans' programs see a major boost in the Trump budget proposal — an increase of more than 6%.

    The budget would make some major improvements to the funding structure for many veteran programs. “Trump’s budget plan also provides $4.6 billion in new funding 'for VA health care to improve patient access and timeliness of medical care services for over nine million enrolled veterans,' but offered few specifics on what that will entail,” said Military Times.

    Total Increase: $4.4B (+6% change)

    Rhode Island Impact: Unknown

  • LOSER: National Endowment for the Humanities

    The Trump budget would eliminate all funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities. The agency's Chairman William D. Adams released the following statement on Thursday afternoon:

    “We are greatly saddened to learn of this proposal for elimination, as NEH has made significant contributions to the public good over its 50-year history.  But as an agency of the executive branch, we answer to the President and the Office of Management and Budget (OMBTherefore, we must abide by this budget request as this initial stage of the federal budget process gets under way. It will be up to Congress over the next several months to determine funding levels for fiscal year 2018. We will work closely with OMB in the coming months as the budget process continues. The agency is continuing its normal operations at this time."

    Between 2008 and 2012, institutions and individuals in Rhode Island received $6.4 million, according to NEH. Programs funded included Brown’s John Carter Library, which was awarded $270,000 to support a fellowship program for NEH designated scholars. 

    Eliminates All Funding: $148 million

    Rhode Island Impact: Eliminates all funding

  • LOSER: Environmental Protection Agency

    One of the federal agencies hardest hit by Trump's budget is the EPA. 

    The EPA lab in Narragansett as well as clean-up programs like Superfund will be impacted.

    The Washington Post reports, “Trump's budget begins to dismantle the EPA, shrinking its funding by 31 percent and eliminating a fifth of its workforce. More than 50 programs would be eliminated altogether, including Energy Star; grants that help states and cities fight air pollution; an office focused on environmental justice and cleanup efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes; and infrastructure assistance to Alaskan native villages and along the Mexican border. Funding for drinking water infrastructure would remain intact, but the agency's scientific research would suffer massive cuts.”

    “Hollowing out the EPA will leave communities at the mercy of big polluters and signal surrender in the fight against catastrophic climate change. How exactly does allowing industrial plants to pollute our air and drinking water put America first?  How does hamstringing our diplomatic corps put America first?” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in a statement on Thursday. 

    Total Decrease $2.5B (-31% change)

    Rhode Island Impact: Unknown

  • WINNER: Homeland Security

    Federal agencies will win under the Trump budget, including funding for a beefed up border. Funding will go to “build a border wall, for 500 new Border Patrol agents, and 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.”

    However, certain RI state agencies, local police and emergency agencies will see cuts. According to the Washington Post, the budget "cuts $667 million from grant programs to state and local agencies, including pre-disaster mitigation grants and counterterrorism funding.”  Total impacts on Rhode Island are unknown.

    Total Increase $2.8B (+7% change)

    Rhode Island impact: Unknown

  • LOSER: National Endowment for the Arts

    If Rhode Island is anything, it may be the "Arts State". And arts are getting slashed under Trump's budget. 

    National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu said, "Today we learned that the President’s FY 2018 budget blueprint proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation."

    For everthing from Trinity Rep to public art projects -- the budget cuts will dramatically change the funding available for arts groups.

    Eliminates All Funding: $148 million

    Rhode Island Impact: Eliminates all funding

  • LOSER: Commerce Department

    The Trump budget would hit some key programs that impact Rhode Island that are funded via the Commerce Department — these include coastal research programs, and efforts like the Rhode Island Sea Grant which is one of 33 programs across the country “working to enhance environmental stewardship and long-term economic development and responsible use of coastal and marine resources.”

    Also getting slashed in the proposed budget is the Economic Development Administration, which has been targeted for decades. U.S. Senator John Chafee called for the elimination of the program and called it “pork” back in the 1980s.

    Senator Whitehouse criticized the cuts to funding for NOAA, “Slashing the NOAA budget will take away resources from our coastal economy in Rhode Island.”

    Total Decrease $1.4B (-16% change)

    Rhode Island Impact: Unknown



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