The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Why Gina Raimondo Would Be a Disastrous Pick for HHS


POLITICO reported Wednesday that Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is under serious consideration to run the Department of Health and Human Services in the Biden administration. After years of destructive leadership in Rhode Island, where she is overseeing one of the worst COVID crises in the country, picking Governor Raimondo for HHS -- a key position leading the administration's pandemic response - would be disastrous and harmful.

The American public agrees: according to recent polling, nearly 70% of respondents oppose President-elect Biden appointing Raimondo to any cabinet position.

"Raimondo is exactly the wrong person to pick if the goal is to instill confidence that the Biden Administration can bring a swift end to the pandemic," David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress and former member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives said. "Her record on health is a total disaster - and because of her mismanagement, COVID rates in Rhode Island are around twice the national average. Whether COVID, RI's Affordable Care Act insurance exchange, or a major benefits overhaul known as UHIP, she has a lengthy track record of failures in the healthcare space in particular."

"Raimondo's career has been driven by out-of-state contributions from hedge funders who often back Republicans who share her antipathy for civil servants," Revolving Door Project Executive Director Jeff Hauser said. "We need a leader at Health and Human Services who can lift civil servant morale after years of unwarranted attacks by Trump and Alex Azar. Raimondo is the wrong person with the wrong baggage at the most critical time."

From mismanaging the pandemic, to consistently siding with corporate interests that bankroll her campaigns, to undercutting abortion access in Rhode Island, Raimondo's record on health should disqualify her from the position:

  • Failed to manage the COVID outbreak -- which has resulted in Rhode Island being one of the hardest hit of any state run by Democrats, and the worst in the Northeast. "On Wednesday, Rhode Island ranked among the top 10 nationally in new per capita coronavirus cases, according to The New York Times, with no other New England state or New York in the top half of states." - The Providence Journal
  • At the behest of lobbyists, issued executive orders to shield nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare providers from liability. Documents show that Raimondo quickly responded to lobbyists' demands for an executive order granting them legal immunity during the pandemic, the culmination of a decade-old effort by the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). "What immunity has done is allow nursing homes to act unreasonably without accountability," said Anthony Leone, a Warwick-based personal injury lawyer who specializes in nursing homes." - The Providence Journal
  • Approved steep health insurance rate hikes in the midst of the pandemic. "Some of the rate increases are nearly 10%, all at a time when health insurance companies have been piling up revenues with consumers using fewer services due to the pandemic" - Go Local Providence News
  • Cut $58.7 million from Medicaid this year, while giving $15.7 million to insurance companies. "When we're pushing brutal Medicaid cuts, we just can't afford to give extra money to insurance companies - especially not when it comes with an initiative to encourage them to cut spending on actual care." Rhode Island State Senator Samuel Bell in Uprise RI
  • Signed a budget that stripped abortion coverage from thousands of Rhode Islanders - contributing to NARAL downgrading her to "mixed on choice." "Rhode Island health insurers must offer plans that do not cover abortion under new requirements in the state's recently passed fiscal 2016 budget. The changes, signed into law late last month by Gov. Gina Raimondo, have raised concern among women's healthcare proponents who fear the new language will restrict women's access to abortion." - International Business Times
  • Mismanaged development of Unified Health Infrastructure Project computer system -- yielding cost overruns and difficulty accessing benefits medicaid and other benefits. "Launched despite a series of red flags, and without a backup, UHIP led to underpayments, overpayments, long lines at field offices, and application-processing backlogs for food stamps so high that the ACLU of Rhode Island sued over the issue." - Providence Journal

For more information about Raimondo's record, visit the No Corporate Cabinet microsite and read Revolving Door Project's latest blog post: How Does Any Decent Person Consider Gina Raimondo For HHS Secretary? | Revolving Door Project

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