Lt. Governor Roberts Leads the Charge For Small Business Growth In Rhode Island

DD Roberts

Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth H. Roberts was inaugurated as the 68th lieutenant governor of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations on January 2, 2007, making history as the first female elected to the position. She was re-elected to a second term in January 2011.

Prior to taking office, Lt. Gov. Roberts spent over a decade distinguishing herself as one of Rhode Island’s most respected advocates for quality, affordable health care for every family and built a statewide reputation for being a tireless leader on health and medical issues. Throughout her career, she has been a leader in economic development and job growth, pushing for cleaner air and water, stronger schools, and increased attention to our disaster preparedness. Roberts served in the Rhode Island State Senate from 1997 to 2007 and received the second highest rating in the General Assembly from Common Cause, Rhode Island’s premier government reform organization.

As a senator, she was a uniting force in making insurance more affordable for small businesses by working closely with medical professionals, hospital administrators, insurers, business owners and consumers to find creative solutions to bridge the gap between escalating costs and affordability. In 2004, she helped create the Office of Health Insurance Commissioner to oversee insurance companies and health care costs and, in 2006, she sponsored legislation to create a public/private partnership to reduce the burden of health care costs on small businesses.

As Lt. Governor, her significant accomplishments in this arena continued, including; launching Mission: Healthy RI in 2007, the Rhode Island Healthy Reform Act of 2008, Making it Work: Health Reform in Rhode Island in 2010, and the Healthy RI Implementation Task Force in 2010.

In January, 2011, Governor Chafee signed into executive order the Rhode Island Healthcare Reform Commission and named Lt. Governor Roberts as its Chair, citing Lt. Governor Roberts’ “decades of valuable experience with healthcare-related issues.” As chair of the Healthcare Reform Commission, Lt. Governor Roberts leads more than 150 stakeholders in developing and implementing action steps, timelines, and assignments of lead responsibilities for all healthcare reform efforts; maximizing stakeholder and public engagement; assuring open dialogue with the General Assembly; identifying and removing barriers to and developing incentives for critical healthcare; and identifying workforce capacity and training needs in the private and public sector. Under Lt. Governor Roberts’ direction, Rhode Island is among the leading states in the country in its establishment of a health benefits exchange, to which she has been a tireless advocate and spokesperson.

Roberts is also a leading voice for expanded biomedical research in Rhode Island. During her first year as lieutenant governor, Roberts released a report on the future of stem cell research in Rhode Island and is currently working to facilitate greater access to stem cells for researchers and patients in Rhode Island through public cord blood donations. Robert has also fostered extensive and effective interstate collaboration through her office’s participation in the Interstate Alliance on Stem Cell Research.

Roberts serves as chair of the Long Term Care Coordinating Council, the Small Business Advocacy Council, and the Emergency Management Advisory Council. Through her work with the Long Term Care Coordinating Council, Roberts is pushing to expand community-based care for seniors and people with disabilities. Roberts has also focused on the quality of care provided to persons in the long-term care system, bringing together one of the largest groups of medical professionals in recent history to address the problem of pressure ulcers.

Through Roberts’ leadership, the Small Business Advocacy Council has focused on ensuring that small business owners have a voice in government. The council includes representatives of all Rhode Island’s chambers of commerce, as well as both large and small businesses, which make up over 95 percent of Rhode Island’s economy. The council has focused on the rising costs of health care for employers, state investments in small business development and changes to the fire code to give businesses a voice in the review process.

As chair of the Emergency Management Advisory Council, Roberts has played a key role in working with state emergency management officials and the Rhode Island National Guard to ensure Rhode Island’s preparedness for events like hurricanes and terrorist attacks. Roberts’ close working relationship with the Rhode Island National Guard has been further strengthened through programs like Operation Holiday Cheer, the Military Family Relief Fund, and the Garden of Heroes, a memorial honoring all Rhode Island service members who have lost their lives in the line of service since September 11, 2001.

Roberts graduated from Brown University in 1978 and earned an MBA in health care management from Boston University. Before serving in the Senate, Roberts worked as a business strategy consultant, policy analyst, and health care manager. She is married to Thomas Roberts, her husband of over 30 years, and together they have two grown children. The Roberts have been residents of Cranston’s Edgewood section for more than 20 years.


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