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5/2/2017 Senate OKs bill to speed doctors’ waits for insurance credentials
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin to institute a 45-day limit on how long a health insurer can take to issue credentials to a physician in Rhode Island.

The legislation (2017-S 0145A) is intended to eliminate lengthy waits new doctors face when they apply to insurance companies for approval to see patients and receive reimbursements from them. These long waits, which can take months, discourage new doctors from coming to work in Rhode Island, contributing to doctor shortages in many fields, particularly in mental health care. The bill is part of the Senate leadership’s legislative package to improve mental health care, developed after months of hearings by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

“When insurers take months to approve new doctors, it not only discourages doctors from coming to our state, but it means patients who they could be seeing are instead waiting longer for appointments. There needs to be a reasonable limit on how long this process can take for the sake of ensuring high-quality care to Rhode Islanders, particularly at a time when we need more doctors to serve mental health needs here,” said Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence).

During hearings on the bill, Dr. Michael Silver of the Rhode Island Psychiatric Society testified that there are statewide shortages of psychiatrists, especially child psychiatrists, available to see people in community settings.

The legislation was also recommended by the Rhode Island Medical Society.

“This bill to speed up the insurance credentialing process will be welcomed by every physician practice in the state who have recruited new physicians only to endure the uncertainty and unpredictability of the insurers’ credentialing process. We thank Senator Goldin and the Senate for recognizing that physician practices are small businesses that rely on insurer reimbursement for the care they provide to patients,” said Dr. Sarah J. Fessler, president of the Rhode Island Medical Society.

The legislation, which is cosponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), now heads to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2017-H 5219).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923