PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Despite President-elect Donald J. Trump’s call to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, Rhode Island officials are pushing forward with plans to expand its reach.
Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Health and Human Services Secretary Elizabeth Roberts on Monday announced that Rhode Island has received approval for nearly $130 million in federal Medicaid matching funds over the next five years to expand its health care overhaul, launched in 2015, under the administration’s program Reinventing Medicaid 2.0.
The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved the plan on Oct. 20 — 2 ½ weeks before the presidential election. The state’s effort builds upon a key pillar of Obamacare: creating new payment models that offer financial incentives to reduce costs and improve health outcomes. The state also has received approval for the first time to use some of the federal money to invest in the state’s three public colleges to train students for healthcare jobs.
Rhode Island is one of 30 states, along with the District of Columbia, that expanded eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Nearly 300,000 Rhode Island residents — almost a third of the state’s population — are currently served by the Medicaid program, Roberts said.
The vast majority of the nearly $129.7 million in federal Medicaid matching funds would help health care providers — including hospitals and nursing homes — pay for the infrastructure, technology and other support they need to shift to alternative payment models, known as accountable entities, Secretary Roberts told reporters after the news conference.
About $6.5 million — or 5 percent of the funding — would be spent on healthcare workforce development in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island.
“It’s finally really happening,” Secretary Roberts said before a packed State House news conference. “The federal government has said, ‘this is the way to go…’ ”
But the state’s Medicaid reforms which Obamacare helped launch face an uncertain future. President-elect Trump has said in his campaign manifesto that Congress should repeal the Affordable Care Act and give each state a federal block grant for Medicaid.