Updated March 27 at 12:27am

Health care summit draws a crowd as panelists discuss reforms


WARWICK – More than 450 people crowded into the Grand Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Providence-Warwick to hear two panels of health care experts discuss the implementation of health care reform in Rhode Island, new innovative payment and delivery models for health care delivery now underway, and the progress being made on the launch of the R.I. Benefits Exchange.

The program, “Health Care Reform and the Insurance Exchange,” one of a series of summits offered by the Providence Business News, drew a record number of participants, many of whom praised the high level of the content.

“For somebody like me who is trying to keep up with all that is happening, it was a great opportunity,” said Sen. Joshua Miller.

“I thought it was invaluable,” Domenic Delmonico, senior vice president at Care New England. “The number of people who attended is a testament to that.” A lot of people, he continued, want to learn more about the exchange. “The first panel did a really good job of helping people understand it.”

The first panel featured Christine Ferguson, executive director of the exchange, James Roosevelt, Jr., CEO of Tufts Health Plan, R.I. Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts and William E. O’Gara, a partner at Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West.

Feguson offered details regarding the schedule of the exchange, which she said would be up and running by Oct. 1, with a website that details all the new health insurance products to enable individuals to begin to shop and compare. Actual enrollment will begin as of Jan. 1, 2014.

The exchange will have a new name that’s “not the exchange,” Ferguson said. The new name will be introduced as part of a communications strategy that is scheduled to begin in early summer. By Jan. 1, 2015, the exchange will need to self-sustaining, she added.

Unlike the experience of the Massachusetts Connect, which had a number of residents trying to game the system, not signing up for health insurance until they were sick, then, after receiving treatment, dropping coverage, the new federal and state guidelines in Rhode Island will prevent what Koller termed as “jumpers and dumpers.”

Roberts linked the exchange to the broader innovation in health care delivery. “We’re not just changing how you get health insurance but how we get health care,” she said.

The second panel of experts featured Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, president and CEO of Lifespan, Dr. G. Alan Kurose, president and CEO of Coastal Medical, Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Stephen Farrell, CEO of UnitedHealthcare New England, William Devereaux, a partner with Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West, and Tuft’s Roosevelt.

The panel discussed the new innovative models of health care delivery and health insurance products that are being developed in Rhode Island. Babineau discussed Lifespan’s efforts to change the model of health care delivery at the state’s largest hospital network by making the patient the center of the delivery system.

Kurose, who has pioneered shared savings contracts with Blue Cross and a new accountable care organization with UnitedHealthcare, said that lowering costs had to focus on more than just inpatient care at hospitals.

Farrell talked about providing new information tools for consumers and providers, so that with access to better information, they can make better choices and achieve better outcomes.

Edward Quinlan, the president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, praised the quality of the discussion at the summit. “I thought PBN did a great service to the community, as measured by the turnout. This isn’t the future any more, it’s approaching.” Anytime people come to an event like this, he continued, “you learn more, and you can’t learn too much.”

Presenting sponsors of the event including Tufts Health Plans, USI, AARP, and Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West. Co-sponsors included Delta Dental, Coastal Medical, Lifespan, Tunstall, and Executive Master Program of Healthcare Leadership at Brown University.


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