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RI Expands Health Care Access, COVID-19 Cases: 20

PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has announced six new presumptive positive COVID-19 cases and a new enrollment period for Health Source Rhode Island health care plans to cut costs incurred from anticipated care during the outbreak.

The special enrollment period will be open from this coming Monday through April 15. For anyone who is concerned that they need to be tested for coronavirus — or anyone who is seeking care because of coronavirus exposure – coverage will start retroactively.

The initiative is a local version of an ACA enrollment window plan proposed by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and endorsed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) who have urged the Trump administration to open a similar enrollment window on a national scale.

In addition to the new enrollment opportunity, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo announced new guidance has been issued to health insurers related to COVID-19:

  • Update telemedicine policies to include telephone-only services for primary care and behavioral health providers.
  • Ensure testing and screening for COVID-19 can be done without prior authorization and without any cost to the patient.
  • Cover prescription refills even if the prescription has yet to run out, provided that the prescription itself would remain valid beyond the refill date. This will allow people to shelter in place, while ensuring that they have adequate supplies on hand for continuity of care and medication compliance.
  • Work to remove barriers to access to services related to COVID-19 that may delay necessary care, including requirements for specialist referrals and prior authorizations.
  •  In the event a federally-approved vaccine becomes available for COVID-19, cover the cost of the immunization for all enrollees.
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As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, health insurers should continually assess their readiness, plan for network adequacy challenges, make any necessary adjustments, and keep their providers and subscribers informed. The complete list of instructions for health insurers is attached.

The new enrollment window and health insurance guidance are intended to ensure access and continuity of care during the COVID-19 State of Emergency, according to the RIDOH.

On Friday, Raimondo announced that public schools’ April vacation would be moved up, starting March 16, to limit spread of the disease.

New diagnoses of COVID-19

Four of the new people diagnosed are male. Two are female. Their age ranges from 30s to 70s. At least three of the individuals reported recent travel: two separate domestic trips, and one trip to Lisbon. All six are recovering at home.

COVID-19 in RI, by the numbers

  • Number of Rhode Island COVID-19 positive (including presumptive positive) cases: 20
  • Number of people who had negative test results at RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories: 198
  • Number of people for whom tests are pending: 57
  • Number of people who are currently instructed to self-quarantine in Rhode Island because they had direct contact with a person with COVID-19: approximately 600.
Rob Borkowski
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Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.