January 15, 2015

Sen. Whitehouse to Bring Elizabeth Roberts to State of the Union Address

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) announced today that his guest for President Obama’s State of the Union address will be Elizabeth Roberts, the current nominee for Secretary of the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services and former Lieutenant Governor, who has been a leading voice on health care reform in Rhode Island.  Roberts will travel to Washington, DC for the address and will have a seat in the visitor’s gallery in the House Chamber. 

“Rhode Island is a leader on health care reform, much thanks to Elizabeth,” said Whitehouse, who founded the Rhode Island Quality Institute during his time as Rhode Island Attorney General and is a strong advocate in Washington for health care delivery system reform.  “Her work has improved the quality of health care Rhode Islanders receive and their ability to access affordable health insurance coverage.  I know we both look forward to hearing President Obama’s goals for the New Year on health care and a range of other issues.”

“Access to high quality affordable and sustainable health care continues to be a critical priority for Rhode Islanders and all Americans and is sure to be a focus in the President’s address.  Given my work in this area, I am so honored to be invited by Senator Whitehouse to attend this important address,” said Roberts.

Roberts served as Rhode Island’s 68th Lieutenant Governor for two terms from 2007 to 2015, and was the first woman elected to the position.  She worked on numerous health care-related initiatives during her time in office, including the formation of Mission: Healthy RI, a broad group of health care stakeholders devoted to expanding health insurance coverage for Rhode Islanders.  In 2011, Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee named Roberts to head the newly created Rhode Island Healthcare Reform Commission, which brought together over 150 stakeholders to work on a range of health care reform efforts.  From 1997 to 2007, Roberts served in the Rhode Island Senate, where her numerous health care accomplishments included co-chairing the Permanent Joint Committee on Healthcare Oversight and helping to create the Office of Health Insurance Commissioner, to oversee insurance companies and health care costs.

More recently, Roberts and a group of Rhode Island health care leaders – representing providers, insurers, and the business community – developed recommendations on how the state can improve care and lower costs.  The group, convened by Senator Whitehouse and Rhode Island Foundation CEO Neil Steinberg, sent a letter last month to Rhode Island state leaders laying out specific recommendations on health care payment reform.


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