Five Questions With: Peter Marino

Peter Marino has been CEO and president of Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island since 2014. The nonprofit provides comprehensive health care coverage to approximately 200,000 Rhode Islanders.

Prior to Neighborhood, Marino worked as the R.I. Senate fiscal adviser, director of research and policy for the Providence-based RDW Group, and director of policy and municipal affairs for the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council. Marino also served as an adjunct lecturer in public policy at Brown University’s Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions.

Providence Business News asked Marino’s opinion on local and national developments in health care from the Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island perspective.

PBN: How is uncertainty regarding health care law and the Affordable Care Act affecting the industry?

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MARINO: Right now, the turmoil over cost-sharing reduction payments, or CSRs, is causing a lot of uncertainty. The Trump administration calls CSRs a “bailout,” when in fact they are federally mandated. Without CSRs, low-income earners and folks with fixed incomes will face substantially higher premiums.  We’re concerned because this is specifically why Neighborhood participates in our state exchange: to make sure families and small businesses can access affordable coverage.

PBN: Does Neighborhood have a contingency plan for ACA repeal?

MARINO: People deserve high-quality health care. For close to a quarter of a century, Neighborhood has helped them get it – regardless of economic conditions and no matter which party had the most political control. While we’re optimistic our leaders in Washington, including the four remarkable members of our congressional delegation, will protect and enhance the ACA, Neighborhood will adapt to any developments and continue to help our members access the care they need.

PBN: What is the major trend in health care in Rhode Island? How does that compare to national trends?

MARINO: Health care is personal. That realization drives our own local trend: a return to the past, in the form of home visits. Our teams spend much of their time in people’s homes, speaking their languages and learning their specific needs. We have that same level of care with our small-business clients, recognizing that offering health care to employees is never a one-size-fits-all proposition. Locally and nationally, insurers who see their members as folks trying to deal with what’s most pressing to them and their families will be the ones who succeed.

PBN: What’s your take on big data’s role in health care? What do you see on the horizon there?

MARINO: Big data has the power to make our members’ health care experiences much more personal – and more effective. Neighborhood’s Health@Home program is a great example. Health@Home uses sophisticated predictive modeling to determine our most medically fragile members, who are then connected with one-on-one care to manage their conditions. We’ve seen dramatic reductions in ER visits and inpatient days as a result.  Neighborhood is also currently studying a “population health” approach, using data to get a picture of an entire population and implement more targeted interventions.

PBN: How has the opioid crisis affected Neighborhood’s customers?

MARINO: Neighborhood has more than 200,000 members – or about one in every five Rhode Islanders. That means the opioid epidemic has been as devastating for our members and their families as it has for the rest of the state. But it has also driven us to act. Last year, we took the statewide lead in making it easier for our members to have access to medication assisted therapies. And we connect our members with high-risk pharmacy profiles to alternative pain-management treatments. Our hope is that these and other efforts begin to turn the tide on this crisis.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN contributing writer.