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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On Thursday, March 9, 2019, the Ohio House of Representatives completed their work on the two-year operating budget. Prior to passing the budget out of Committee on Wednesday, the House Finance Committee adopted an omnibus amendment that made the following changes with respect to programs for people with developmental and other disabilities:
- Requires a County Board of Developmental Disabilities to inform individuals with developmental disabilities or their caretakers of their right to enter an Intermediate Care Facility, even if the individual is offered a Home and Community Based Service Waiver. States that before a person can be added to a waiting list for a HCBS Waiver, they must be informed of their right to enter an ICF.
- Creates a new line item for Best Buddies Ohio and provides funding of $50,000 per year to, “support the delivery and expansion of inclusion services throughout Ohio schools.”
- Creates a new line item for Community Program Support and provides funding of $25,000 per year. No purpose for this line item is provided, only that the funding shall be provided to Halom House, Inc. According to the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, “Halom House, Inc., provides 24-hour and drop-in services to adults with developmental disabilities. Their residential services include three types of support: Group Home, Supportive Living, and Respite Services.”
- Requires the Ohio Department of Education, in consultation with the Joint Education Oversight Committee, to conduct an evaluation of special education, including the categories of special education, best practices, protocols for treatment, technology to enhance special education, and costs. The Special Education Research Study will be due by no later than December 31, 2020.
- Creates a new line item for Centers for Independent Living and provides $450,000 per year to support Centers for Independent Living in accordance with the State Plan for Independent Living.
Changes made last week as part of the substitute bill remained as part of the bill. These included:
- Requiring a joint legislative panel to review, every 2 years, the protection and advocacy and client assistance program to determine if a new entity should be named and to make a recommendation to the Governor.
- Increases funding for Medicaid to provide an average hourly wage to Direct Support Professionals of $13.
- Provides $100,000 per year for Special Olympics.
- Earmarks $750,000 per year of Part C Early Intervention Funding to be used to contract with the Cleveland Sight Center, The Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Sight Center of Northwest Ohio to provide early intervention services and family support to children under the age of 3 with blindness or low vision.
- Creates a workgroup to advise the Department of Developmental Disabilities on the, “payment system for adult day support and nonmedical transportation services available under the home and community-based services Medicaid waiver components administered by the Department.” Members of the workgroup include representatives from DODD, Ohio Health Care Association, Ohio Provider Resource Association, The Arc of Ohio, the Values and Faith Alliance, the Ohio Association of County Boards of DD, the Ohio Waiver Network, one parent advocate, one resident of a county with a population of less than 65,000 and between 520 and 620 square miles (Adams, Coshocton, Darke, Guernsey, Highland, Knox or Seneca), two representatives of private agency providers of adult day supports from either Cuyahoga, Franklin or Hamilton County that operate their own nonmedical transportation system and serve more than 200 consumers, and two members of the Senate and two members of the House. Increased funding for nonmedical transportation remains in the bill, but cannot be spent until the workgroup issues recommendations, which will not occur until June 30, 2020 (a one year delay).
On Monday, we learned of new guidance from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development related to STABLE Accounts. Following years of conflicting information from HUD on how STABLE Accounts affect eligibility for housing assistance programs. HUDs new guidance states that STABLE Accounts do NOT affect eligibility for housing assistance programs.
On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee markup of the Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations bills was released, with significant increases for DD Act programs, as follows:
- The Committee recommends $80,000,000 for State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, which is $4,000,000 above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $24,000,000 above the fiscal year 2020 budget request. The Developmental Disabilities State Councils work to develop, improve and expand the system of services and supports for people with developmental disabilities.
- The Committee recommends $41,619,000 for University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, which is $1,000,000 above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $9,073,000 above the fiscal year 2020 budget request. The University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service are a nationwide network of independent but interlinked centers, representing a national resource for addressing issues, finding solutions, and advancing research related to the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
- The Committee recommends $43,000,000 for Developmental Disabilities Protection and Advocacy, which is $2,266,000 above the 2019 enacted level and $4,266,000 above the fiscal year 2020 budget request. This formula grant program provides funding to States to establish and maintain protection and advocacy systems to protect the legal rights of persons with developmental disabilities.
- The Committee recommends $13,000,000 for Developmental Dis- abilities Projects of National Significance, which is $1,000,000 above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $11,950,000 above the fiscal year 2020 budget request. This program funds grants and contracts that develop new technologies and demonstrate innovative methods to support the independence, productivity, and integration of those living with a disability into the community.
- The Committee recommends $37,000,000 for Assistive Technology, which is $1,000,000 above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $5,061,000 above the fiscal year 2020 budget request. The Committee provides a $1,000,000 increase for Section 4 of the Assistive Technology Act. Assistive Technology (AT) supports programs providing grants to States for addressing assistive technology needs of individuals with disabilities. The goal is to increase awareness of and access to assistive technology devices and services that may help with education, employment, daily activities, and inclusion of people with disabilities in their communities. The Committee continues to provide $2,000,000 for competitive grants to support existing and new alternative financing programs that provide for the purchase of AT devices.
- The Committee recommends $41,063,000 for Program Administration, which is the same as the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and $2,076,000 above the fiscal year 2020 budget request. This funding supports Federal administrative costs associated with administering ACL’s programs.
On Wednesday, the Administration on Community Living announced their plan for reorganization of federal programs under their purview, with DD Act Programs being split up under separate supervision. There would be 3 new offices under the Administration on Disabilities, with differing oversight of programs:
- The Office of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Programs (including DD Councils and UCEDDs); (Director Jennifer Johnson)
- The Office of Independent Living Programs (CILs, SILCS etc.); (Director Bob Williams) and
- The Office of Disability Services and Innovation (Including the P&As, PNS, HAVA, Traumatic Brain Injury, Limb Loss) (Acting Director Tom Campbell)
NEXT Week in Public Policy: May 13 - 17, 2019
On Tuesday, March 14, 2019, the Senate Finance Health and Medicaid Subcommittee will hold ALL Testimony on the budgets for the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Agency, and the Ohio Department of Health. The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. in Hearing Room 110 (Grant Hearing Room) of the Ohio Statehouse. Witnesses interested in testifying or providing written testimony on the budget are asked to provide the testimony 24 hours in advance to Chairman Bob Hackett’s office. Witnesses testifying will be limited to 4 minutes each.
On Wednesday, March 15, 2019, the Senate Finance Health and Medicaid Subcommittee will hold ALL Testimony on the budgets for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Mental Health and Addiction Services, and Aging. The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. in the Senate Finance Hearing Room.
On Thursday, March 16, 2019, the Senate Finance Health and Medicaid Subcommittee will hold ALL Testimony on the state budget (House Bill 166). The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. in the Senate Finance Hearing Room.
No hearings identified.