R 123
2021 -- S 0109 AS AMENDED
Enacted 03/16/2021

S E N A T E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Senators Calkin, Mendes, Anderson, Mack, Bell, and Quezada
Date Introduced: January 26, 2021

     WHEREAS, Health care is a human right, not a commodity available only to those who
can afford it; and
     WHEREAS, Although the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed states to offer
more people taxpayer subsidized private health insurance and increased Medicaid access, the
ACA has not provided universal, comprehensive, affordable coverage for all Rhode Islanders;
     WHEREAS, In 2020, according to HealthSource Rhode Island, about four percent (4%)
of Rhode Islanders (40,000), had no health insurance; and
     WHEREAS, HealthSource Rhode Island reported that approximately twenty-five percent
(25%) of Rhode Islanders (250,000) were underinsured in 2020 (i.e. high deductibles and out-of-
pocket maximums); and
     WHEREAS, COVID-19 exacerbated and highlighted problems with the status quo health
insurance system including:
     (1) Coverage is too easily lost when health insurance is tied to jobs - during the COVID-
19 pandemic many Rhode Islanders lost their jobs and therefore may have lost or experienced
disruption in their health insurance;
     (2) Systemic racism is reinforced - Black and Hispanic/Latinx Rhode Islanders, more
likely to be uninsured or underinsured, have suffered the highest rates of COVID-19 mortality
and morbidity; and
     (3) The fear of out-of-pocket costs for the uninsured and underinsured puts everyone at
risk because they avoid testing and treatment; and
     WHEREAS, The existing US health insurance system has failed to adequately control the
cost of health care and to provide universal access to health care in a system which is widely
accepted to waste thirty percent (30%) of its revenues on activities that do not improve the health
of Americans; and
     WHEREAS, Every industrialized nation in the world, except the United States, offers
universal health care to its citizens and enjoys better health outcomes; and
     WHEREAS, Health care is not universally accessible under our current system, despite
the fact that Rhode Island patients, businesses and taxpayers already pay enough money to have
comprehensive and universal health insurance coverage; and
     WHEREAS, An improved health care system that includes a "Medicare for All" or
"Medicare for All Who Want It" plan would increase consumer choice, ensure competition
between public and private payers, and improve access to care - providing a pathway to universal
coverage; and
     WHEREAS, About one-third (1/3) of every “health care” dollar spent in the U.S. is
wasted on unnecessary administrative costs and excessive pharmaceutical company profits due to
laws preventing Medicare from negotiating prices; and
     WHEREAS, The health care marketplace does not respond to traditional supply and
demand forces for many reasons, including that the suppliers of services (health care providers)
also control demand by recommending whether or not patients get particular care; and
     WHEREAS, The resources Rhode Islanders currently spend on health insurance,
pharmaceuticals and health care could be used much more efficiently; and
     WHEREAS, Rhode Island private businesses bear most of the costs of employee health
insurance coverage and spend significant time and money choosing from a confusing array of
increasingly expensive plans; and
     WHEREAS, Rhode Island employees and retirees lose significant wages and pensions as
they are forced to pay higher amounts of health insurance and health care costs; and
     WHEREAS, Rhode Island’s hospitals are under increasing financial distress – i.e.,
closing, sold to out-of-state entities, attempting mergers – in part due to health insurance
reimbursement problems that other nations do not face and could be fixed by a "Medicare for All"
or "Medicare for All Who Want It" plan that provides more equitable reimbursement rates; and
     WHEREAS, The state and its municipalities face enormous other post-employment
benefits (OPEB) unfunded liabilities due mostly to health insurance costs and could be largely
eliminated by a "Medicare for All" or "Medicare for All Who Want It" plan; and
     WHEREAS, The high costs of medical care could be lowered significantly if the country
could negotiate on behalf of all its residents for bulk purchasing, as well as gain access to usage
and price information currently kept confidential by private health insurers as "proprietary
information"; and
     WHEREAS, A "Medicare for All" or "Medicare for All Who Want It" would provide
comprehensive coverage that would include vision, hearing and dental care, mental health and
substance abuse services, as well as prescription medications, medical equipment, supplies,
diagnostics and treatments; and
     WHEREAS, Health care providers would spend significantly less time with
administrative work caused by multiple health insurance company requirements and barriers to
care delivery and would spend significantly less for overhead costs because of streamlined
billing; and
     WHEREAS, There is extensive research that shows an improved "Medicare for All" or
"Medicare for All Who Want It" plan will benefit all by providing universal comprehensive
affordable health care coverage and establishing a funding system that is public, progressive,
sustainable and contains health care costs; and
     WHEREAS, A "Medicare for All" or "Medicare for All Who Want It" plan would
eliminate much of the administrative waste in the current system; now, therefore be it
     RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island hereby recognizes the need
for the United States government to implement an improved "Medicare for All" or "Medicare for
All Who Want It" plan and hereby respectfully urges Congress to pass such legislation that would
provide a pathway to universal coverage; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and hereby is authorized and directed to
transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the Clerk of the United States House of
Representatives, the Clerk of the United States Senate, and to members of the Rhode Island
Congressional Delegation.