RI Supreme Court to meet Thursday on Prov Medicare appealFebruary 8th, 2012 at 4:49 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
By Ted Nesi
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Supreme Court’s five justices will meet Thursday to decide whether to give a speedy hearing to Providence’s appeal of a lower-court ruling blocking the city from switching its retirees’ health insurance from Blue Cross & Blue Shield to Medicare.
Associate Justice William Robinson sat down with lawyers on both sides of the case Wednesday afternoon and decided he wanted to wait for his four colleagues to weigh in rather than make a temporary decision himself about Providence’s request for an expedited review, court spokesman Craig Berke told WPRI.com.
The justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments together on Thursday, allowing them to take up the matter more quickly than is sometimes possible. All the justices have already read the two sides’ briefs in the case, said David Ortiz, a spokesman for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.
Robinson’s comments to lawyers about the justices’ views “confirmed that they consider this to be a case of great importance and significance,” Ortiz told WPRI.com. The city hopes oral arguments will be scheduled within the next two weeks if the justices agree to an expedited review of its appeal, Ortiz said.
Taveras said Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter’s ruling against the city on the Medicare change has pushed Providence to “the brink of bankruptcy.” Governor Chafee filed an amicus brief supporting him, saying the case could impact “all municipal and state efforts to achieve fiscal health through needed reforms.”