STATE HOUSE — Expressing gratitude to her lawmaking
colleagues, Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence) is lauding the legislation
passed by the General Assembly this session, including a long-sought tiered
child care reimbursement that was passed as part of the state budget.
“It is gratifying to see that my legislative colleagues saw
fit to enact the bills I introduced that I considered so important,” said
Representative Diaz. “From the child care reimbursement mental health copay
parity, I feel we have passed a diverse array of important legislation this
Highest among Representative Diaz’s priorities was an
overhauling of the Rhode Island Child Care Assistance Program, which helps
low-income working families pay for child care. The child care assistance rates
in Rhode Island were well below the recommended levels to ensure equal access
to high-quality child care. Representative Diaz had submitted legislation for
to establish a tiered child care reimbursement rate system. This year, it was
included in Article 15
of the state budget and signed into law.
The purpose of the new system is to promote access to
high-quality child care, and to attract and retain more qualified and effective
educators. This is something that is encouraged by the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services.
“Governor Raimondo’s inclusion of this program in her budget
— and its passage by the General Assembly — will make a meaningful difference
for child care providers, families, and children,” said Representative Diaz.
“It an important next step to take to reach our goal because it creates a
system that increases rates for all child care providers serving low-income
families and larger increases for higher quality programs.”
Another law (2018-H 7806A)
sponsored by Representative Diaz requires that insurers treat behavioral health
counseling and medication maintenance visits the same as primary health care
visits when determining patient cost-sharing. The legislation is aimed at
better achieving parity between mental health coverage and primary health
coverage for Rhode Islanders. The bill also directs the Office of the Health
Insurance Commissioner to work with insurers to enhance mental health parity
and to report to the General Assembly on the impacts of the legislation.
“Counseling and medication maintenance are a type of
preventive care for those who need them, and the costs of going without them
can be high. But when insurance companies require higher copays for them, the cost
can discourage patients from continuing their treatment, and can make it
totally unaffordable. This bill is as much a statement about the importance of
mental health maintenance as it is about saving patients money,” said
Representative Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence).
Representative Diaz also cosponsored other bills which
became law this session, including an act (2018-H 7194)
that requires driver’s education programs to include drivers’ rights and
responsibilities as part of the curriculum, a law (2018-H 7305A)
that adds alcohol and alcohol-related overdoses to the Good Samaritan Overdose
Prevention Act, and a law (2018-H 7694A)
that improves school safety by requiring that school district safety
assessments be provided to the Rhode Island School Safety Committee every three
years for review and recommendations.