Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo announced March 26 that the state will soon release a total of $15.4 million in state and federal Medicaid “retainer payments” to shore up private service providers facing unprecedented challenges in the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement came hours after representatives of private service providers and a prominent advocacy group expressed anxiety about a heightened vulnerability of people with developmental disabilities to the disease and called on the governor to do more.

The retainer payments “are seen as essential to supporting our critical DD (developmental disability) partners, many of which had to cease services due to COVID 19,” a spokesman for the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) said late in the afternoon.

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Gina Macris

Gina Macris is a career journalist with 43 years’ experience as a reporter for the Providence Journal. She retired in 2012. While at the Journal she wrote two series about her first-born son that won prizes from the New England Associated Press News Executives Association. Gina now publishes the Developmental Disability News.