Ted Nesi

The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RI

December 20th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post

Click here to read this week’s Saturday Morning Post on the new WPRI.com website »


Gina Raimondo to attend Charlie Baker’s inauguration

December 18th, 2014 at 7:38 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo is planning to attend her Massachusetts counterpart’s inauguration next month, WPRI.com has confirmed.

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Judge rebukes Mollis over flawed Michael Corso filing

December 18th, 2014 at 11:31 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Rhode Island Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that Secretary of State Ralph Mollis’s office abused the judiciary for political reasons during its investigation of alleged 38 Studios lobbying violations by Michael Corso.

Mollis defended his actions even as an attorney for Corso called him “a disgrace.”

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Watch Executive Suite: Gregg’s Restaurants; BlumShaprio

December 15th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Watch Newsmakers: Providence Mayor Angel Taveras

December 14th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RI

December 13th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post

Click here to read this week’s Saturday Morning Post on the new WPRI.com website »


Mayor Taveras touts improved finances, schools as top accomplishments

December 12th, 2014 at 3:15 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – As he prepares to exit City Hall, Mayor Angel Taveras says he’s leaving Providence in better financial condition than he found it when he took office four years ago.

Taveras acknowledged Rhode Island’s capital city was running out of money in early 2012, but said he has no regrets about his decision to avoid filing for bankruptcy, during two wide-ranging interviews with Eyewitness News. Taveras will appear on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers Sunday morning.

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Mass. firm buys RI’s Warren Equities for $383 million

December 10th, 2014 at 7:02 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Warren Equities Inc., a closely held Rhode Island petroleum retailer whose late founder left $100 million to Brown University’s medical school, has been sold to a Massachusetts firm.

Global Partners L.P. said it is paying about $383 million for Providence-based Warren Equities, whose three divisions include the XtraMart convenience store chain and which has regularly made Forbes magazine’s annual list of the largest private companies in the United States. Founder Warren Alpert died in 2007.

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Everything you need to know about RI’s big pre-K expansion

December 10th, 2014 at 6:16 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Why were Rhode Island officials so excited when the White House announced Wednesday that the state had won a $2.3-million federal grant for its preschool program?

Because the influx of funds will help expand one of the most successful state-funded pre-K programs in the country from 17 sites to 60 sites over the next five years, tripling the number of classroom seats offered to four-year-olds across the state.

While many details are still being ironed out, here’s an overview of pre-K in Rhode Island.

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Embattled Coventry fire chief’s pension being examined

December 9th, 2014 at 6:16 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island General Treasurer’s office and a state police detective are currently reviewing pension records of embattled Coventry Fire District Chief Paul Labbadia, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

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Brown prof on why so many RI elderly are in nursing homes

December 9th, 2014 at 5:58 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

My WPRI.com piece Monday on 12 things to know about Medicaid in Rhode Island has – happily! – gotten a lot more clicks and feedback than I expected. Thanks to all who read it.

The most interesting feedback I received was from Kali Thomas, an assistant professor of health services, policy and practice at Brown University, who thinks there are ways Rhode Island can reduce its far-above-average Medicaid spending on elderly residents:

I wanted to point out some interesting information about those highest spenders you referenced (particularly those in nursing homes).

One disappointing statistic is that we are ranked 43rd out of the 50 states with almost one-fifth of our population of nursing home residents identified as having low-care needs. These “low-care” residents are those who do not necessarily require the level of care provided in nursing homes. Specifically, they do not require assistance with any of the four late-loss activities of daily living – eating, bathing, toileting, or transferring – and they are not classified as needing extensive rehabilitation or identified as “clinically complex.” This suggests that were we able to provide them with supportive services in the community, they may be able to be cared for and sustained in a less restrictive and more appropriate setting. Focusing on efforts to reduce the numbers of low-care residents in our state is a great opportunity to reduce the excessive spending in our Medicaid program.

Previous work I have conducted with colleagues at Brown’s School of Public Health suggests that increased spending on home- and community-based programs, like home-delivered meals, is related to a lower proportion of low-care residents. Further analyses have suggested that increasing capacity in the home-delivered meals program can potentially result in savings to states’ Medicaid programs. However, despite legislative testimony I gave this past year highlighting the beneficial effects we could recognize by reinstating previous funding levels for our state’s Meals on Wheels program, the cuts that were made to the program have sadly remained in place.

I would like to draw attention to A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers, produced by AARP, SCAN Foundation and the Commonwealth Fund. It lists specific domains related to long-term care where we could use improvement and how we compare to other states. For example, Rhode Island ranks second to last in our efforts to re-balance Medicaid long-term care spending. As a state, only 16% of our Medicaid long-term care spending goes toward services provided in people’s home and in the community. Investing in relatively more affordable supportive services that enable people to remain in the community rather than being placed in costly nursing homes is one way we can lower overall costs. I believe that our state’s residents and policymakers need to have a better awareness of why we are among the highest spenders on long-term care and what we can do about it.

There is so much we can learn from other states and with our size, we are ideally positioned to enact changes to improve our system of long-term services and supports. Thank you for spreading awareness about our state’s Medicaid spending “problem.” Now, let’s focus on solutions!

Another interesting point was made by Secretary of Health and Human Services Steven Costantino, who pointed me to this July study by Pew looking at state Medicaid costs nationwide.

The Pew study shows Medicaid spending growth in Rhode Island averaged just 2% from 2000 to 2012, the third-lowest growth rate in the country and only half the national average of 4.1%. That’s far below the 7% growth rate for Medicaid spending projected last month by the House Fiscal Office.

The study also shows Medicaid spending per enrollee rose 13% in Rhode Island between 2000 and 2010, more than twice the national average of 13%. Also interesting: 33% of Rhode Island’s Medicaid enrollees were elderly and disabled, tied for fifth-highest share in the country.

Finally, if you want to dig in further on all these issues, you’ll want to read this 2007 “Future of Medicaid” report conducted by the Carcieri administration. It’s a very good overviews of the issues Medicaid was facing in Rhode Island pre-recession and pre-Obamacare, and has some terrific charts. For example, here’s another look at how Medicaid costs breakdown across elderly beneficiaries during the state’s 2005-06 fiscal year:

Medicaid elderly population RI costs 2007 report

One of the many challenges noted in the report: “Medicaid beneficiaries in mandatory coverage groups tend to be high-need, high-cost service utilizers. As is explained elsewhere in this report, by contrast, beneficiaries in the optional coverage groups are primarily children and families – e.g., RIte Care enrollees – who have less complex service needs and are less costly to cover.” It goes on to say:

Of critical importance is that recent efforts by the state to improve services to the adult populations “carved out” many of the high cost beneficiaries and focused instead on managing the care of users at the middle and lower ends of the cost distribution curve. This includes the soon to be implemented health plans for both elders and adults with disabilities. Yet, as these distribution curves reveal, care management is necessary for all beneficiaries and, in particular, for those who are high cost users, to ensure that the right services are being provided in the most appropriate setting.

And here’s another chart from that report, this one showing how fast RIte Care and RIte Share, the managed-care insurance program for lower-income children and adults, expanded during the Almond administration:

Medicaid RIte Care 1995 2006 enrollment

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi


12 things to know about Medicaid in Rhode Island

December 8th, 2014 at 4:40 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – When Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo tapped Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts as her secretary of health and human services on Sunday, the state’s incoming leader gave Roberts a clear mission: “We have to commit ourselves to being the national leader in controlling Medicaid costs.”

Why is Medicaid such a big deal, and why is Raimondo focusing on it? Here are 12 facts to help you understand the $2.7-billion-a-year program, its costs and its importance.

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Buddy Cianci spent $981K on mayor’s race

December 8th, 2014 at 1:24 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – In the end, Buddy Cianci’s unsuccessful bid for mayor of Providence cost him just under $1 million.

Cianci reported spending $981,000 – including $200,000 of his own money – during his five-month campaign for the city’s top job, according to a disclosure filed Monday with the R.I. Board of Elections.

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Watch Executive Suite: Sons of Liberty; RI employment law

December 8th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Watch Newsmakers: U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

December 7th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RI

December 6th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post

Click here to read this week’s Saturday Morning Post on the new WPRI.com website »


Mollis: Providence attorney was lobbyist for 38 Studios

December 5th, 2014 at 1:43 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – More than two months after a hearing officer ruled Providence attorney Michael Corso violated the state’s lobbying laws while working for 38 Studios, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis has signed off on the decision and levied a $2,000 fine.

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RI GOP got outspent more than 12-to-1 in fall campaign

December 3rd, 2014 at 3:21 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democrat Gina Raimondo had a not-so-secret weapon this fall as she waged her successful campaign for governor against Republican Allan Fung: the vastly superior financial resources of her political party.

When all the various sources of campaign spending are combined, it appears likely that more than $8 million was spent since the start of last year to win Raimondo the Democratic nomination and then the governor’s office, compared with somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million spent to assist Fung.

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RI gov candidates spent more than $15M on race

December 3rd, 2014 at 2:14 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The six major candidates for Rhode Island governor spent more than $15 million on their campaigns when all was said and done, according to a review of R.I. Board of Elections filings by WPRI.com.

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Jury trial in RI pension lawsuit to start April 20

December 2nd, 2014 at 1:27 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) – The judge handling a union-backed challenge to Rhode Island’s 2011 pension overhaul on Tuesday granted a request by the state’s lawyers for a jury trial in the suit, and set an April 20 date for it to start.

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Maryland gov’s aide will be Raimondo chief of staff

December 2nd, 2014 at 1:25 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo on Tuesday announced Stephen S. Neuman, an aide to outgoing Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, will be her chief of staff.

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9 things to know about Providence’s new zoning ordinance

December 1st, 2014 at 11:20 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Sixty-three years after Providence officials approved the city zoning ordinance, Mayor Angel Taveras on Monday will sign a major update of the zoning rules into law.

So what kind of changes can we expect from the new ordinance? Here’s an overview.

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Watch Newsmakers: RISP Col. O’Donnell; Food Bank’s Schiff

November 30th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


The Saturday Morning Post: Quick hits on politics & more in RI

November 29th, 2014 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site, The Saturday Morning Post

Click here to read this week’s Saturday Morning Post on the new WPRI.com website »


Watch Executive Suite: Citizens Bank CEO Bruce Van Saun

November 27th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes


How RI’s ‘poultry king’ created a Thanksgiving tradition

November 26th, 2014 at 5:04 pm by under Nesi's Notes

RI_turkey_doomed_Hedges_Herald_Nov_18_1913By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s most famous contribution to Thanksgiving was probably its turkeys – thanks to the efforts of a Westerly farmer named Horace Vose, better-known as “the poultry king.”

Born in 1840, Vose became “known all over the United States as the man who has furnished the Thanksgiving Turkey to every President from Grant to Roosevelt.”

Not all Rhode Islanders have been as enthusiastic about Thanksgiving as Vose, however. Back in America’s pre-revolutionary days, Rhode Island refused to join its fellow colonies in celebrating it.

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Paiva Weed wants statewide teachers’ contract

November 26th, 2014 at 7:50 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed told business leaders this week she plans to consider creating a statewide contract for teachers, a complex – but potentially cost-saving – idea that has been discussed off and on for many years.

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Fox empties 2 political accounts; still has $244K

November 26th, 2014 at 7:49 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan & Walt Buteau

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former House Speaker Gordon Fox has quietly withdrawn funds from two of his political accounts, but he still hasn’t touched the quarter-million dollars that have sat idle in his personal campaign war chest ever since investigators raided his home and State House office in March.

A Target 12 review of campaign finance reports filed with the R.I. Board of Elections shows Fox donated $91,475 to four nonprofit organizations using money in the accounts of the R.I. House Leadership PAC and the Fund for Democratic Priorities, two political action committees whose expenses are typically reserved for campaign donations and consultant fees.

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Providence has spent nearly $400k to follow workers, retirees

November 25th, 2014 at 8:46 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan & Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The city of Providence has paid private investigators nearly $400,000 over the last decade to trail city employees and retirees it suspects are defrauding taxpayers, Target 12 has learned.

All told, Providence has doled out $375,105 to three Rhode Island investigative firms since 2003, according to a Target 12 examination of city payment records obtained through a public records request.

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Gist wants to keep job as RI education commissioner

November 24th, 2014 at 1:27 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Deborah Gist, who has served as Rhode Island’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education since 2009, is seeking to keep her job under incoming Gov. Gina Raimondo.

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