This Week in Public Policy: May 10 - 14, 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.

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Click here to read updates from previous weeks.

In Ohio

Public testimony on the state budget for health and human service issues wrapped up on Thursday. The Senate Finance Committee heard from witnesses throughout the day on a variety of topics. Pertinent to people with disabilities, there were multiple witnesses that provided testimony in support of a 5% per year increase in HCBS waiver services, directed towards front-line workers. Key items the committee is considering that advocates can still weigh in on include:

*The DRO Transparency Amendment has not yet been added to the budget. DRO Executive Director Kerstin Sjoberg testified in opposition to the proposed amendment, saying the amendment could endanger federal funding for DD Councils and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. Senator Mark Romanchuk disputed her characterization, claiming the amendment would only create transparency of DRO’s activities. The proposed amendment would create a joint legislative panel every two years to evaluate the work of DRO and to determine and make a recommendation to the Governor if a new entity should be designated as the state Protection and Advocacy Agency.

While public testimony on the budget may be done, you can still contact your Ohio Senator in the next week. It’s now or never in terms of being able to have an impact on the state budget.              

The House Families, Aging and Human Service Committee was supposed to hold a hearing on House Bill 179 (Expedited Licensing for Long Term Care Facilities). However, the bill was dropped from the agenda.

On Tuesday, May 11, 2021, the House Health Committee heard PROPONENT Testimony on House Bill 198 (Health Coverage of Hearing Aids). The bill would require health plans to provide coverage of hearing aids for individuals under the age of 21. Several doctors, audiologists and patient advocates testified in support of the bill.

In Washington

On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the Fiscal Year 2022 Health and Human Services Budget. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra gave the same testimony he provided to the Appropriations Committee.

NEXT Week in Public Policy: May 17 - 21, 2021

In Ohio

On Wednesday, the Senate Health Committee will hold ALL Testimony on Senate Bill 58 (Esther’s Law). The bill would permit video-monitoring of residents of a long-term care facility by family members. The hearing will take place at 9:30 a.m. in the North Hearing Room of the Senate Building.

On Thursday, May 20th, 2021, the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee will hold a hearing at 9:00 a.m. in Hearing Room 313 of the Ohio Statehouse. The committee will vote to set the JMOC rate for the budget and will receive a presentation from the Department of Medicaid on the budget and caseload variance reports.

On Thursday, May 20th, 2021, the House Families, Aging and Human Services Committee will hold ALL Testimony on House Bill 212 (Expand Eligibility BCMH Program). The bill would increase the age of eligibility in the BCMH program to children up to the age of 26. The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. in Hearing Room 116 of the Ohio Statehouse.

In Washington

On Tuesday, May 18th, 2021, the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on The Need for Universal Broadband: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic. The hearing will take place at 10:30 a.m. via video-conference.

On Thursday, May 20th, 2021, the Senate HELP Committee, Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement will hold a hearing entitled, “A Dire Shortage and Getting Worse: Solving the Crisis in the Health Care Workforce.” The hearing will take place in Dirksen Room 430 at 10:00 a.m.

Facts That May Only Interest Me:

There is a winery in Croatia that uses a sunken ship as its cellar. The Edivo Vina Winery touts the underwater aging process as superior to cellars on dry land due to temperature and the lack of sound in the ocean. Only a wine snob could suggest that a wine tastes better based on the sound during the aging process. On the less pretentious end of the spectrum, there is a distillery in Kentucky that blasts rock music as part of a “sonic aging” process to enhance the taste of their brandy. The distiller there claims the sound waves cause the barrels to vibrate, instilling more flavor in the liquor.