Through the ownership of several popular nightspots and restaurants, State Sen. Joshua Miller has been influential in the Providence dining and nightlife scene for years. But since jumping into politics seven years ago, the Cranston Democrat is now as likely to take a stand on hospital consolidation or payday lending as he is nightclub closing hours or farm-to-table cuisine. After leading a commission on health care affordability and wrestling with the sale of Landmark Medical Center in the Corporations Committee, Miller this year was named chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee.
PBN: What are the biggest issues you expect to tackle on the Health and Human Services Committee this year?
MILLER: I think watching carefully now that there is a private hospital entity acquiring Landmark, how that plays out in the marketplace and what changes they make to the hospital. That really has an impact on the system and what needs to be done to regulate a private hospital and how it impacts other hospitals as they go forward.
PBN: There were a lot of twists and turns in the Landmark sale. How do you feel now about how that ultimately worked out?
MILLER: Saving the hospital is very important to a community that, in a small state, is as far away as you can get from the critical mass of hospitals in Providence. … There are only 14 hospitals in Rhode Island and I think what is important to watch is what the impact of decisions they make is on the other 13 hospitals.
PBN: From what you see, how is Rhode Island doing in the effort to bring health care costs down and transition away from the fee-for-service payment model?
MILLER: We’ve made progress, but the results aren’t quite there yet. The commission I chaired on hospital costs and efficiencies, some of those recommendations still should be enacted, like transition away from fee-for-service to a global payment system for results. I have had a bill for the last couple of years that asks for the office of health insurance commissioner to have the ability to have every hospital enter into a contract with every insurer that goes away from fee-for-service.