Neronha Talks About Mueller, RI Healthcare Chaos, and DACA on GoLocal LIVE

Sunday, April 15, 2018


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Former U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha

Peter Neronha is one person in Rhode Island who has had the unique experience of serving under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Less distinct is last March he was fired by Trump -- he is on a long list of public servants.

He is now a candidate for Rhode Island Attorney General and he has insights and knows firsthand the players in the special prosecutor drama playing out now in D.C. and New York City.

Neronha appeared on GoLocal LIVE.

Mueller and Rosenstein

Neronha has a long-time professional relationship with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Neronha said that this weekend may be epic. He said many are waiting to see if Trump tries to derail the special prosecutor Robert Mueller by firing Rosenstein and then having Rosenstein's replacement fire Mueller.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation of Trump.

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Elliot Richardson, fired by Nixon

Many see the events in a similar framework to President Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre. “When President Richard Nixon tried something similar in 1973, Attorney General Elliot Richardson resigned after refusing Nixon’s demand to fire Archibald Cox, who was investigating Watergate. Richardson’s deputy also rebuffed the order and resigned, leaving then-Solicitor General Robert Bork to ultimately carry out the deed. The bloodletting in the top ranks of the Justice Department came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre,” writes Politico.

While some have criticized Mueller for constantly expanding his investigation, Neronha defended it.

“What Muller appears to be investigating, well, let's not also forget that when prosecutors go down a certain path you often uncover things that you weren't expecting to find. You know when we did some of the corruption cases we did here when I was U.S. Attorney, we would start  {in one place] and the Gordon Fox case comes to mind immediately. You know we were looking over here and what we thought we'd find over here, but we found something else right. Well,l you don't just ignore what you found you need to do something with it right,” said Neronha.

Neronha said that the pace of the disruption in Washington is dizzying and wonders and worries about how it will end.

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Elliot Richardson, fired by Nixon

Hospital Chaos

Neronha said Rhode Island needs to develop a comprehensive healthcare policy.  In the past years, Rhode Island has seen the second largest healthcare group — the financially trouble Care New England (CNE)— sign a letter of intent to be acquired by mega-healthcare group Partners HealthCare; CNE closed Memorial Hospital; CharterCare and Brown University have teamed up to make an alternative bid to purchase CNE; and this week CharterCare announced its effort to try and purchase Memorial Hospital and reopen it.

Neronha said that there is a need to create a planning process for the healthcare system -- one of the largest sectors in the Rhode Island economy.


Related Slideshow: 7 Implications and Unintended Consequences of a Care New England and Partners Merger

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Providence does not usually do well in mergers

Remember Providence Gas, Fleet Bank, and Narragansett Electric?

Big employers, deep community involvement, and significant charitable donors — all were consumed and in each case, the number of employees left in Rhode Island by the succeeding company is a fraction of the once independent venture.

To the victor goes the spoils.

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As if the Boston economy isn't good enough, and the Providence economy couldn't be more stagnant

The cityscape of Boston is littered with cranes. Boston Business Journal maps the construction projects utilizing cranes in Boston (see image) and the number of projects is staggering. 

In Providence, there few construction projects and not a crane to be seen. The last thing Providence needs is for another one of its largest employers to be merged into a Boston mega-organization. The likelihood is that jobs will be lost or consolidated to Boston - basic functions like purchasing, accounting, etc. will be lost. 

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Harvard beats Brown in Ivy League match-up

Harvard Medical School is ranked as the #1 research-based institution in America by U.S. News and World Report.

Partners Healthcare’s academic partner is Harvard.

In contrast, Care New England’s academic affiliation is with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Brown’s best ranking is 21st for primary care - and is ranked for research way back at #31.

One of the biggest losers in the merger could be Brown's medical school.

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Care New England is RI’s 2nd largest employer, so what will It be in 2 Years?

According to the RI Department of Labor and Training, Care New England is Rhode Island’s second largest employer.

Lifespan is the largest: 12,050

Care New England: 8,500

CVS: 7,800

Cities like "Meds and Eds" (the medical and educational business segments), but Providence and all of Rhode Island is likely to lose high paid, highly educated jobs as a result of this deal.

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Care New England Continues to Struggle

Despite hopes that closing Memorial Hospital would solve the financially beleaguered Care New England's economic woes, new financial documents unveil that CNE continues to struggle.

Additionally, the pursuer - Partners HealthCare - is also making cuts. The Boston Globe unveiled the Partners is cutting about 100 of the company’s tech workers that their jobs were being outsourced to India to cut costs.

“Many of the employees have worked for Partners for several years, or even decades, and are struggling with the company’s decision. Almost all are coders — people who scour patients’ medical records to pinpoint billable services — and earn upward of $40 an hour. Coders in India earn a fraction of that amount, making overseas coding an attractive way for hospitals to cut costs,” wrote the Boston Globe.

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Can the unions battle?

Within hours of GoLocal breaking the news of the merger, the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) President Linda McDonald, RN, released the following statement today:

"This proposed merger has the ability to impact thousands of jobs and the quality of care in Rhode Island and should be thoroughly scrutinized. Like most Rhode Islanders, we only recently learned of this proposal but expect Care New England and Partners HealthCare to be transparent in their process and begin a conversation with our union about the effect any deal would have on our members and our patients.  

Memorial Hospital provides critical care to scores of Blackstone Valley residents every year and preserving its status as a fully-functioning community hospital will be among our top priorities as this process continues to unfold. 
The onus is now on Care New England, Partners HealthCare and Prime Healthcare Services to make the details of this proposal public and to do it quickly so that workers, patients and state regulators may begin asking the appropriate questions."

The nurses represents nearly 1,400 registered nurses, CNAs, ER techs, surgical techs, orderlies, endo techs, environmental employees and ancillary staff at Kent and Memorial hospitals.  But, will they have any impact on the decisions?

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Speaking of Lifespan - will they be forced to merge with a Boston partner?

Lifespan is having its financial challenges too. While Care New England lost $53 million last year, Lifespan's losses were $40 million. The Lifespan losses were smaller proportionately to the healthcare group's overall budget and it does not have the cash crunch that Care New England was battling.

In February, Lifespan announced it had has entered into another Boston Hospital agreement. This agreement with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a long term agreement with the goal of advancing cancer treatment and research. Lifespan previously entered into an agreement with New England Medical Center and that deal led to years of protracted litigation to unwind. Lifespan also ran into a legal battle with Tufts Medical Center.

Will Partners' potential arrival in the market force Lifespan to affiliate?


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