This Week in Public Policy: April 8 - 12, 2019

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

Monday through Thursday, the House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services held all-day hearings on the state budget (House Bill 166). Monday featured the most speakers dedicated to the Department of Developmental Disabilities budget request, with many speakers presenting a united front to support the proposed wage increase for DSPs and Non-Medicaid Transportation. The number of speakers is too many to list. However, all speakers and their testimony can be found on the Committee’s Website by clicking the date of each meeting. Each hearing was also recorded and is available in the archive at Most speakers were limited to 3 or 4 minutes. Some testimony sought additional funding for home health care and for OOD’s budget. Legislators are also looking at ways to address the issue of custody relinquishment for “multi-system youth”.

On Tuesday, April 9, 2019, the House Insurance Committee heard SPONSOR Testimony on Senate Bill 9 (Health Plan Claim Information). The bill would require health insurance companies to release “certain” health plan claim information to group plan policyholders (employers). Senator Matt Huffman stated in his testimony the bill is intended to give smaller employers better information about the types of health claims their employees are making so they can shop for the best health care coverage. Huffman said de-identified claims data was not a HIPAA violation. 

In Washington

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the House Ways and Means Committee, Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing entitled, “Protecting and Improving Social Security: Comprehensive Legislative Proposals to Enhance Social Security.” Several witnesses testified about the importance and role Social Security has in our society. Stephen Goss, chief actuary for the Social Security Administration, testified that both Social Security Reserve Funds are on track to be depleted by 2034 (15 years). Reserve funds act as a savings account for Social Security that can be used to help pay claims when Social Security taxes are not enough to cover actual costs. Goss said any changes to Social Security should be made sooner rather than later. Some witnesses opposed eliminating caps on the amount of income that is subject to Social Security taxes while other witness supported this approach. 

NEXT Week in Public Policy: April 15 - 19, 2019

In Ohio

On Monday, April 15, 2019, the Commission on Infant Mortality will hold a hearing on the state budget. Slated to testify is Director of Children’s Initiatives LeeAnne Cornyn, Dan McCarthy, director of legislative affairs for Governor Mike DeWine, and Cradle Cincinnati, the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers and the Ohio Domestic Violence Network. The hearing is scheduled to take place at 10:00 a.m. in the Senate Finance Hearing Room. 

This week is considered Spring Break for the Ohio General Assembly. Most committees are not scheduled to meet. 

Looking forward on the state budget, the House Finance Committee is expected to accept a Substitute Bill the week of April 22nd, with hearings on the Substitute Bill scheduled for late in the week. The Ohio Senate is also planning to get started on hearings on the budget bill the week of April 22nd, with Health and Human Service Agencies slated to testify on Thursday, April 25th.