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Print Editions Saturday September 30th, 2023

Raimondo taps Roberts ’78 for cabinet position

Nomination comes after eight-year stint as Rhode Island’s first female lieutenant governor

Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts ’78 was nominated as Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Governor-elect Gina Raimondo announced at a Dec. 7 press conference. The appointment is pending confirmation from the General Assembly in January.

“The lieutenant governor’s years of experience working on various health and human services issues … makes her the best choice to lead this office,” Raimondo said, Go Local Prov reported Dec. 7.

Roberts is slated to replace current Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Steven Costantino, who has held the position since 2011. Constantino previously served for 16 years as a Democratic state representative from Providence before losing a 2010 mayoral bid. “I haven’t decided whether or not there’s a place for him someplace else in state government,” Raimondo said of Costantino, the Providence Journal reported Dec. 7.

Before beginning her eight-year stint as the Ocean State’s first female lieutenant governor in 2007, Roberts served as a state senator for 10 years.

As an undergraduate at Brown, Roberts concentrated in human biology and volunteered at Women and Children's Hospital, which furthered her interest in health care. After graduation, Roberts earned an MBA in health care management from Boston University.

Roberts initially got involved in Ocean State politics by volunteering for campaigns in the early 1990s. She successfully claimed a senate seat in 1996, becoming the first Rhode Island woman to do so in 12 years.

During her nearly two-decade career in public service, Roberts has aided a number of bodies tasked with evaluating the state’s health care system, serving as chair of the State of Rhode Island Healthcare Reform Commission, co-chair of the Permanent Joint Committee on Healthcare Oversight and chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. She also introduced the Rhode Island Healthy Reform Act of 2008, an eight-part reform package aiming to improve citizens’ access to affordable health care, according to Roberts’ website.

Additionally, she helped establish the Office of Health Insurance Commissioner, which works to oversee insurance companies and health care costs, according to her website.

At a meeting with reporters Sunday, Raimondo called Roberts “one of the smartest people I know as it relates to health care,” the Providence Journal reported.

In her new role, Roberts plans on working to foster inter-agency collaboration, which could help improve health care delivery systems, according to a Dec. 7 press release from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

“(I) look forward to rolling up my sleeves to make sure Rhode Islanders of all ages have access to the quality services they deserve,” Roberts said in the press release.


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