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Providence DSA: Rhode Island General Assembly dodges Medicare for All vote, defying public demands

“We do not have the time to play games with healthcare. Every moment we waste translates into potentially irreparable harm to our families, friends, and neighbors. Rhode Islanders are suffering from a dysfunctional profit-driven healthcare system which will continue until they have access to free comprehensive healthcare…”
Photo for Providence DSA: Rhode Island General Assembly dodges Medicare for All vote, defying public demands

On Thursday, 5/13/2021, and Tuesday, 5/18/2021, the Rhode Island House Finance Committee heard House Bill 5628, which would establish a comprehensive, single-payer healthcare system that would be free at the point of service for all Rhode Islanders. Fifty-six individuals from the community signed up to give testimony. All spoke in support of this bill, with none speaking in opposition. Additional bills heard on this topic include House Bill 6449 and House Bill 5046, which would audit and de-privatize Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). MCOs are private companies that oversee 90% of the state’s Medicaid patients, have a disastrous history of routinely over-billing states, and have had no audit since their inception in 2015.

The Providence Democratic Socialists of America believe that quality healthcare should be a right for all and not just a privilege for the wealthy. We, therefore, strongly support each of these bills, seeing them as a path towards building just such a healthcare system. However, many of our representatives in the General Assembly do not share our concern that hundreds of thousands of people in Rhode Island are uninsured or forced to ration their healthcare.

Before individual testimony was heard, the committee held all three bills for further study. Members of the General Assembly will claim that this is standard practice, but we have seen them pass bills swiftly when it suits their agenda. This is a uniquely Rhode Island political maneuver that allows leadership to control what legislation is seriously considered. Though politicians in our state pay lip service to removing obstacles to health equity, there is little-to-no political will from the vast majority of them to use their power to enact real change. The companion bill in the State Senate, Senate Bill 233, has been “held for further study” for over two months. If the General Assembly is committed to health equity and improving the lives of its constituents, it should work to move H5628 and its Senate companion S0233 swiftly out of committee.

We do not have the time to play games with healthcare. Every moment we waste translates into potentially irreparable harm to our families, friends, and neighbors. Rhode Islanders are suffering from a dysfunctional profit-driven healthcare system which will continue until they have access to free comprehensive healthcare. The members of the House Finance committee, including the legislators in the General Assembly, need to take the demands of their constituents seriously. The Providence DSA will continue fighting to ensure that every person in this state has free, comprehensive healthcare.


Here’s all the House Finance Committee video from May 13, 2021:

Here’s all the House Finance Committee video from May 18, 2021:

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