Speaker Nicholas Mattiello “believes the state should be committed to providing appropriate resources to a program offering unique care and treatment in difficult cases and that gives individuals an improved quality of life, enabling them to live outside the confines of medical facilities,” wrote Larry Berman, Director of Communications for the House. “Some established providers would rather warehouse these often neediest of patients rather than offer relief when it is available.

“The Speaker feels that the application for federal coverage was filed by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services with the same level of competency that they created and currently operate the UHIP computer system. The citizens suffering from head trauma and brain injuries deserve better.”

Berman did not respond to a request for comment from UpriseRI. Instead, he sent this response to other reporters in the state. This is usual, as the House dislikes reporting critical of the Speaker.

Here’s video of my brief interaction with Victor Pedro this morning:


Berman outlined the history of CIT funding here:

“Cortical Integrated Therapy (CIT) was approved by the State of Rhode Island as a reimbursable procedure for Medicaid patients several years ago. This therapy is described in Medicaid filings as ‘using the patients patent afferent neuronal pathways to effectuate either neuronal excitation or inhibition through temporal and spatial stimulation. Ultimately this afferentation creates an increase in the frequency of firing within “functionally lesioned” pathways. It involves the coordination of several existing approved services, but delivered differently.’ Put another way, it is a non-invasive treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussion, and other brain-related disorders. The federal Medicaid authority declined to approve matching funds but the state continued to fund the service as state-only.

“After several years of funding the Governor recommended eliminating the appropriation along with other programs that are not matched by federal funds in order to meet the $25 million in efficiency savings adopted with the FY 2018 enacted budget. The proposal discontinued funding as of November 2017, taking savings for both FY 2018 and FY 2019. The Assembly restored the funding and included the enacted level for FY 2019. She again recommends deleting the funding for FY 2020. The budget approved by the House Finance Committee maintains the program.”

Rhode Island Republicans respond:

Speaking on the budget:

“Here are some ideas of where to cut, Mr Speaker,” said Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Sue Cienki. “First, cut the $1 million dollar grant you gave to your campaign donor Dr Victor Pedro, who appears to be practicing some unique form of alternative medicine…”

Here’s the full press release:


Rhode Island’s new budget will demand about $9.97 billion dollars from the taxpayers this year. This equates to over $9,000 per person. By comparison, the Massachusetts state budget asks about $6,000 per person, and New Hampshire about $5,000 per person. On WPRO recently, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello denied that the state budget was “too big” and said, “I don’t know where to cut it.”

When asked her thoughts, Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Sue Cienki commented, “Here are some ideas of where to cut, Mr Speaker. First, cut the $1 million dollar grant you gave to your campaign donor Dr Victor Pedro, who appears to be practicing some unique form of alternative medicine. Second, stop increasing Governor Gina Raimondo’s corporate welfare programs, instead cut them. Even you have admitted that these programs haven’t paid for themselves. Third, cut the General Assembly’s budget even if means reducing the amount of patronage jobs you dole out to voters in your own district to get reelected. With cuts like these, we can:

(1) eliminate gimmicks like the scooping money from other funds or renaming 911 fees,

(2) avoid new taxes and

(3) lower existing taxes. For instance, lower the sales tax to 6.5 percent as was originally promised by State House politicians years ago.”

Cienki concluded: “While the national economy is growing, Rhode Island is still behind and falling further by the day. Rhode Island only outpaces other states when it comes to wasteful spending like million dollar grants to campaign donors, corporate welfare programs or State House patronage. This kind of spending only makes our structural budget deficit worse. State House politicians may not think a $10 billion budget for this small state is too big, but the average Rhode Islander taxpayer knows they are already paying too much.”

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Jim Cowan
Jim Cowan

The Speaker’s decision to fund therapy for “treatment in difficult cases and that gives individuals an improved quality of life, enabling them to live outside the confines of medical facilities” would be admirable, if we knew the treatment worked. Sadly, there is no evidence that CIT improves patients’ condition. By no evidence, I mean no results from clinical trials designed and performed to accepted standards of medical science. This is why there is an ongoing three-year study on Medicaid patients to find out if CIT helps patients or not, and if it reduces health care costs or not. There are two problems with the Speaker’s decision. The first is that Dr. Pedro has does not have the results of any trials to test the effectiveness of CIT (lack of evidence from trials is the hallmark of the quack – remarkable claims but no evidence). The second is that, because of… Read more »

Barbara Money
Barbara Money

You ought to be aware, Chiropractic is not alternative medicine, it is mainstream and reimbursible by almost all health care insurances. The particular modality in question may be alternative, but should be fine as long as it is working for those individuals with those conditions. In fact, I would like to see more alternative medicine, especially where so much of effective, non-invasive medicine is unlicensed in this state, limiting people’s health choices. That said, if the particular individual is being singled out because he was a big donor to a particular political campaign, then that has to be addressed as appropriate. Not to throw around the label “alternative” as though all of it was quackery.