On June 30, Governor Kasich signed the fiscal year 2016-17 state budget bill (House Bill 64). The two-year budget focuses on tax reform, education, health care and Ohio’s workforce. Advocates for Ohio’s Future’s (AOF) advocacy was focused on sections of the bill that would help Ohioans acquire and maintain good jobs, support Ohio’s workforce and keep Ohioans safe. AOF closely monitored a number of Ohio’s health and human services programs throughout the budget process, including an evaluation of Governor Kasich’s 44 line-item vetoes.
Click here to view the actual budget bill.
Here is a brief summary of how many of Ohio’s health and human services programs fared in the state budget:
- Food and Nutrition: The Ohio Association of Foodbanks received $19.75 million per fiscal year to support Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks and their 3,300 member food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. This funding represents a $5.25 million increase per fiscal year for Ohio’s food programs.
- Medicaid: Ohio maintained its Medicaid expansion to adults with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Medicaid coverage was restored to pregnant women and women diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer with incomes between 138-200% FPL, but this coverage was not restored for Family Planning Services. AOF is disappointed that the Governor did not veto the “Healthy Ohio” plan, which mandates Medicaid recipients to pay co-pays and premiums.
- Behavioral Health: The deadline to integrate behavioral health services into Managed Care was moved from January 1, 2017 to January 1, 2018 allowing the development of language that will provide oversight, accountability and timelines for the integration.
- Person-Centered Work Programs: The intensive case management program was restored to the Governor’s original proposal, which will better prepare Ohioans to acquire and maintain good jobs so they can support themselves and their families. This program will help hard-to-serve people, especially young people, enter the workforce.
- Housing: The Senate’s proposal to cut funding for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund’s (OHTF) in half was not sustained in the final budget bill. The OHTF has a proven history of success, leveraging public and private dollars at a rate of 9:1, and is vital to supporting programs that combat homelessness and providing affordable housing options.
- Adult Protective Services: Unfortunately, APS did not receive the $20 million per fiscal year that they requested, and was instead allocated $30,000 per year, per county for the purpose of employing one APS worker. The lack of increase in funding jeopardizes the safety of older adults in all of Ohio’s 88 counties.
- Children’s Protective Services: Since 2009, the child protection system has suffered a lost of $53.5 million in state dollars, and will now lose an additional $17 million over the next two years with the acceleration of the Tangible Personal Property Tax phase out. The silver lining is the creation of the Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth that is charged developing recommendations to meet the needs of children served in multiple systems.
- Work Support Programs: AOF and coalition members advocated for a 10% refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), but this request was not granted and the state EITC remains nonrefundable. AOF also advocated for continuous and increased eligibility for child care over the next four years starting at 144% FPL in 2016. Unfortunately, child care eligibility was only increased by 5% from 125% to 130% FPL.
- Direct Service Workforce: Without a sustainable wage for home health care workers, outcomes of care and the health of the general population will be negatively affected. In the final version of the budget bill, home health aide services received a 5% rate increase, which is half of the 10% increase the House had included. Direct care workers in the developmental disabilities community will receive a 6% wage increase in six months. AOF had advocated for a sustainable wage for direct care workers across all Medicaid waivers and populations, both agency staff and independent providers.