This Week in Public Policy: April 19 - 23, 2021

This Week in Public Policy, written by DD Council staff person Paul Jarvis, provides a summary of policy and legislation in Ohio and at the federal level that is of interest to people with disabilities.

To subscribe to these weekly updates, send an email to Paul Jarvis at paul.jarvis@dodd.ohio.gov.

Click here to read updates from previous weeks.


In Ohio

The Ohio House of Representatives completed their work on the state operating budget, passing House Bill 110 (Budget Bill) by a vote of 70-27. The House Finance Committee made the following changes to overall funding levels:

  • Department of Aging – Cut $22.5 Million over biennium ($13.75M/$8.75M)
  • Department of Developmental Disabilities – Increase $12.5 Million over biennium ($6.5M/$6M)
  • Department of Medicaid – Increase $255.9 Million over biennium ($103.45M/$152.45M)
  • Mental Health & Addiction Services – Increase of $10.5 Million over the biennium ($5.25M/$5.25M)
  • Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities – Increase of $846,866 over the biennium ($423K/$423K)

Program changes in the budget included:

DODD:

  • Increases the earmark intended for innovative technology in 2022 from $1 million to $1.5 million.
  • Earmarks $1 million of Part C Early Intervention funding in each year of the biennium for the Cleveland Sight Center, Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Sight Center of Northwest Ohio.
  • Requires DODD to use $5 million each year ($1.7 Million GRF/$3.3 Million Federal) to increase payment rates for HCBS Adult Day Care Services. Also requires DODD to establish a methodology for calculating a rate increase for these services.
  • Transfer of Residential Facility License - Clarifies that a residential facility who received their license in state fiscal year 1996, and has been operating without a lease agreement for at least four years, the facility cannot transfer the license to a new location with a different licensee. Also specifies that if a licensee no longer operates a residential facility at the location named in the license, allows the licensee to request approval from DODD to transfer license to new licensee at same location.

Medicaid:

  • Reinstates statutory quality incentive payments for nursing homes with changes and provides $108.5 Million in funding per year for the quality incentive payments (up from $50 Million per year in the as-introduced version of the budget).
  • Creates a Nursing Facility Payment Commission consisting of seven nursing facility stakeholders. Requires the commission to evaluate quality incentive payment metrics.
  • Moves up proposed rebasing date from July 1, 2023 (introduced version of budget) to June 30, 2022. Earmarks $50 million each year for rebasing determinations.
  • Earmarks $5 million each year to pay for adult day care services under the PASSPORT program. Requires ODM to establish a methodology for calculating the rate increase.

Aging:

  • Requires ODA to operate an At Home Technology Pilot Program utilizing remote monitoring technologies and provides $250K per year.

Education:

  • Massive changes in school funding formula were included as part of this draft of the state budget (incorporating many changes proposed by House Bill 1).
  • Autism Scholarship Program – Requires all private providers to the ASP to submit to a criminal records check. Results of criminal records check must be submitted to ODE. All providers will be enrolled in the Retained Applicant Fingerprint Database in same manner as licensed educators. Adds “registered behavior technician” and “certified Ohio behavior analyst” to the list of qualified providers that may offer services under the ASP.

Other Provisions:

  • Disability Housing Property Tax Exemption - Changes the way a property tax exemption is provided for charitable use for individuals with developmental disabilities. Current law requires the organization that owns the property to receive funding from one or more county boards of DD. The amendment allows organizations to also qualify for the requirement if at least 75% of the people who lease the property for housing are eligible for certain Medicaid-funded services administered by the Department of DD.
  • Open Meetings Law - Extends from July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 the authority for video-conferencing and teleconferencing for public meetings.
  • Incorporates House Bill 179 (Home Health Care Licensure) requiring all agency and non-agency home health care workers to obtain licensure from the Ohio Department of Health one year after effective date of bill.

On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, the House Transportation had scheduled House Bill 31 (Accessible Parking) for a hearing and possible vote. Not witnesses were present to testify. The bill, however, was not moved for a vote by the committee.

On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, the House Civil Justice Committee held SPONSOR Testimony on House Bill 182 (Discrimination in Rental Housing) and held OPPONENT Testimony on House Bill 162 (Derogatory Language). Representatives Adam Miller and Terrence Upchurch spoke on House Bill 182, stating that while the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, disability, etc., however, that landlords were refusing to accept housing vouchers, which are generally used by the populations covered by the Fair Housing Act. There were no witnesses on House Bill 162.

In Washington

Monday through Wednesday, advocates from around the country participated in the Virtual Disability Policy Seminar, hosted by The Arc, AUCD, NACDD, SABE and other organizations. Advocates met with their federal policy makers to discuss ABLE Accounts, Community Living, Criminal Justice, Education, and Social Security issues affecting people with disabilities. Fact Sheets from the conference can be found here.


NEXT Week in Public Policy: April 26 - 29, 2021

In Ohio

At the time of this publication, the Senate Health Committee had not issued their announcement of committee meeting for next week. It is expected that health and human service directors will present testimony to the committee on Thursday, April 29th at 11:00 a.m. in the North Hearing Room. Other standing committees of the Ohio Senate are schedule to meet throughout the week to hear testimony from state agencies. Public testimony on health and human service agency budgets is expected to begin on May 3, 2021.

The Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday, April 29th at 9:00 a.m. in Hearing Room 017 of the Ohio Statehouse. The joint committee will receive testimony from Optimus on the per member per month costs to Medicaid and may adopt the final report on the medical inflation rate.

In Washington

On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on the US Department of Labor’s 2022 Budget Request. The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m.

On Thursday, April 29, 2021, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing to examine Social Security during COVID, focusing on how the pandemic hampered access to benefits and strategies for improving service delivery. The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m.

Facts That May Only Interest Me

Ketchup was originally used as a medicine to cure diarrhea, indigestion, rheumatism and jaundice. Most of us know the origins of Coca-Cola included alcohol and cocoa leaf extract (ingredient for cocaine), but did you know it was originally called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca? Sodas didn’t stop there. 7-Up originally contained lithium as treatment for bipolar disorder. It was originally called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda. 7-Up contained lithium up to the 1950s. Also, the atomic mass of lithium is 6.941, or, rounded “Up” to “7”, 7-Up.