This Week in Public Policy: June 4 - 8, 2018

This Week in Public Policy provides a summary of policy and legislation in Ohio and at the federal level that is of interest to people with disabilities.

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In Ohio:

On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee held hearings on Senate Bill 218 (Surety Bonds) and Senate Bill 243 (Medicaid Copayments).

Senate Bill 218 (Surety Bonds/Medicaid Training).  The bill proposes to require certain providers of Medicaid services (Independent Providers, Ambulettes, Home Health Agencies) to obtain and maintain a surety bond and to complete training. Multiple people were present to testify, including individuals representing transportation providers and families and adults with developmental disabilities. Much of the testimony centered on the difference between an honest error and Medicaid fraud. Witnesses also talked about the very low rates for services under Medicaid and that adding expenses to providers without an increase in rates was effectively an unfunded mandate. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Peggy Lehner, stated that she recognized the bill in its current form might not fix the issue of fraud and asked multiple witnesses present if they would be willing to work with her on alternatives to reducing fraud that were not as onerous as the bill.

Senate Bill 243 (Medicaid Copayments). The bill would exempt individuals with disabilities whose sole income is from SSI/SSDI from having to pay the Medicaid Co-Payment. The committee passed the bill with no discussion.

On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, the Ohio House of Representatives selected Representative Ryan Smith to finish out the year as Speaker. In an unusual turn of events, Smith was declared the new Speaker after 10 rounds of voting failed to secure a majority for any of the four individuals who were nominated.

On Thursday, June 7, 2018, the Ohio House of Representatives concurred in the Senate amendments to House Bill 332 (Organ Donation). The bill would prohibit discrimination on the organ donation list due to a person’s disability. The bill will now go on to the Governor.

In Washington:

On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will held a hearing entitled, “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” Due to scheduling issues, the hearing was shortened. A review of Secretary Azar’s testimony shows no reference to disabilities.

On Thursday, June 7, 2018, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing entitled, “Examining Social Security’s Solvency Challenge: The Status of Social Security’s Trust Funds.” Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration provided a report that stated the disability trust fund could meet all obligations through 2034, an improvement over last year’s analysis. Goss’s report indicated the Old Age and Survivors Benefit (retirement) lost a few months of solvency since last year.  Separately, the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities issued a statement on the solvency report.

NEXT Week in Public Policy: June 11-15, 2018

In Ohio:

No committees have been scheduled. Sessions in the House and Senate have been cancelled.

In Washington:

Congress will be in session. Based on committee schedules, no pertinent bills were up for consideration or discussion.