State Report: Problem Gambling, 38 Studios & Millions for Medicare
Saturday, August 11, 2012
This week’s State Roundup features several encouraging stories including increased funding for a state gambling addiction program, crime lab, and a boost in hospital Medicare reimbursement. Additionally, the state may also receive some relief in regard to the 38 Studios bankruptcy. Lastly, we touch on strange story in which a candidate for the RI House of Representatives essentially copy and pasted his campaign website. Sound hard to believe? Keep reading for the bizarre details.
Funds for state gambling addiction program restored
Although the question of whether table games should be allowed in Rhode Island’s slot parlors has been a major issue recently, the problem of gambling addiction has been lost in the fold. That is until this past week when funds to the state’s problem gambling fund were restored through the efforts of the General Assembly, Twin River and Newport Grand.
Speaker of the House Gordon Fox (D) and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed (D) announced on Thursday that the GA would be reinstating $50,000 to the problem gambling program for this Fiscal Year. Additionally, both Twin River and Newport Grand agreed to contribute a combined $50,000, bringing the program’s funding to $100,000 for Fiscal Year 2013.
According to Sen. Weed, the GA had never intended to deplete the program’s funding. “When the Speaker and I learned that this funding was inadvertently eliminated, we immediately found the resources to restore these essential services. The Senate remains deeply committed to ensuring that those who have compulsive or problem gambling addictions receive the necessary support to seek treatment and overcome this challenge,” said Sen. Weed.
Similarly, the state’s two slot parlors took to action when they discovered the gap in funding. "We have never wavered from our commitment to help those in need and feel strongly that there should be no gap in any funding to support these programs. We will continue to work with our partners in this endeavor,” said Diane Hurley, owner of Newport Grand.
38 Studios bankruptcy update
This week saw a major turn of events in the ongoing 38 Studios bankruptcy case. First, it was revealed on Wednesday that a federal judge is allowing the bankruptcy proceedings to move from Delaware to Rhode Island. Lawyers for the state had previously requested a judge in Wilmington move the case to Rhode Island. State attorney Tom Carlotto reports that it will be cheaper to hold the proceedings in Rhode Island rather than Delaware.
Additionally, Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced on Thursday that Providence attorney Richard Land was appointed receiver for 38 Studios. Land’s legal expertise pertains to corporate law and insolvency and receivership law. According to Land’s website, he has served as a court-appointed receiver for an assortment of businesses and has represented clients in RI state courts, United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Rhode Island.
It was also announced that the state plans on selling 38 Studios’ intellectual property and use the proceeds to help repay the $75 million loan that the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation granted to the company.
38 Studios filed for chapter 7 liquidation on June 7 after laying off all of its employees.
RI crime lab gets grant
Rhode Island will be the recipient of a $200,000 federal grant designed to help the state’s crime lab reduce its backlog of DNA samples. The grant is part of a statewide effort to help law enforcement officials solve more crimes. U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D) announced the news on Wednesday.
“Forensic DNA analysis helps solve crimes and put offenders behind bars. This federal funding will bolster the crime lab’s ability to effectively and efficiently analyze evidence and eliminate the backlog,” said Reed, who voted to create the DNA Backlog Reduction Program in 2000.
Rhode Island’s Forensic Sciences Laboratory is responsible for examining evidence and gives expert scientific testimony in legal and criminal cases. The crime lab helps detect and solve crimes, identify drunk drivers, and helps in the investigation of violent crimes.
As of June 2012, Rhode Island’s crime lab contains more than 15,000 offender profiles and over 500 forensic profiles. The Providence Journal reported earlier this year that there were 110 backlogged cases at the crime lab.
Four RI hospitals to get $7.1 million Medicare increase
Four southern Rhode Island hospitals have just received a major boost in Medicare payments. On Monday, it was announced that the Kent, South County, Newport and Westerly hospitals would be given a $7.1 million increase in Medicare payments, courtesy of the new regulations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“This is a victory for Rhode Island hospitals that is long overdue. It will help ensure greater certainty for the hospitals and level the playing field for hospital staff so they are fairly paid for providing care to patients,” said Sen. Reed “I have had many conversations with CMS over the years, and I am pleased the agency has finally responded to the delegation’s efforts to address the Medicare reimbursement disparity among hospitals in Rhode Island.”
Here is the breakdown of the Medicare reimbursement increases:
- Newport Hospital - $1.32 million in Medicare reimbursement in FY13.
- Kent Hospital - $3.26 million in Medicare reimbursement in FY13.
- South County Hospital - $1.31 million in Medicare reimbursement in FY13.
- Westerly Hospital - $1.19 million in Medicare reimbursement in FY13.
RI House candidate copies Georgia politician’s website
William O’Brien, a Democratic candidate for the Rhode Island General Assembly has come under fire for taking material from the political website of Jimmy Carter’s grandson and using it on his own campaign website.
O’Brien took entire passages from Jason Carter’s website regarding to the areas of education, energy policy and job creation. In some cases O’Brien failed to alter any words except replacing the word “Georgia” with “Rhode Island.” In total, O’Brien “borrowed” approximately 1,000 words from Carter’s website.
One passage that O’Brien used and did not change reads as follows: "As I talk to families throughout the district, it's clear that our economic struggles remain a major concern for most. We need solutions that will have an immediate impact on our ability to attract new business and generate jobs, while also investing in the future health of our economy."
O’Brien responded to the news by issuing a public apology, but insists that it was not plagiarism, because he received Carter’s permission. Carter, a Democrat stated, “I’ve known Bill for a long time. I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
O'Brien is running for the RI House of Representatives seat in District 54 (North Providence). His competition includes David Pellegrino (D), Lance Mantia (D) and Kenneth Amoriggi (I).
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