Gov. Gina M. Raimondo has stepped in and told Rhode Island’s two health care systems – Lifespan Corp. and Care New England Health System – to create a full-feature, in-state health care system, one that also includes Brown University. And if the two systems cannot work out a deal, she says, then the already negotiated, 2-year-old CNE-Partners HealthCare merger deal goes back on the table.
This recent turn of events shows a side of the governor that we rarely have seen. Unlike in the case of the Pawtucket Red Sox, for which she expended almost no political capital and allowed the General Assembly to fritter away a chance to keep the team in the Ocean State, Gov. Raimondo has used the power of her office – in this case the Department of Health’s ability to approve or deny a health care merger – to force a deal that many observers believe would be good for the state.
It would not be entirely fair to say it’s about time, because between the system that has evolved in Rhode Island for separation (and strength) of powers and the stranglehold that one party has on the legislature, there is not much that a governor can do to make things happen if she is at odds with legislative leaders.
Even given those caveats, the governor has seemed especially reluctant, at least to the casual observer, to jump into the political fray and bend the discussion in the direction she would like it to go.
Having been elected by the entire state [twice], as opposed to the leaders in the General Assembly, it is more than her prerogative to jump into such important issues. It is her duty.