0 Comments · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Gov. John Kasich pushes to bypass the legislature to expand Medicaid to more low-income Ohioans.
2 Comments · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
If anyone knows what it means to lose federal funds, it’s Gov. John Kasich.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
, Health care
at 12:17 PM | Permalink
Legislative panel to consider expanding eligibility
After months of wrangling with legislators from his own political party to support the federally funded Medicaid expansion, Republican Gov. John Kasich decided to bypass the legislature and instead ask a seven-member legislative oversight panel to consider expanding Medicaid eligibility to more low-income Ohioans.Kasich’s decision to go through the Controlling Board means he no longer requires a
vote in the Ohio House and Senate to take on the expansion. The choice
is instead left to the seven members of the panel: one Kasich appointee,
four Republican legislators and two Democratic legislators.For
most of the year, Kasich has been lobbying Republican legislators, who
control both chambers of the General Assembly, to approve the expansion.
But Republican legislators refused, citing concerns about the federal
government’s involvement in the health care system and fears that the
federal government can’t afford the expansion.Meanwhile,
Democrats, in a rare alliance with a Republican governor, applauded
Kasich for taking up a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s signature
health care law.Kasich’s administration initiated the alternative
route to expansion on Sept. 26, when Ohio’s Medicaid director submitted a
plan to the federal government to expand Medicaid eligibility. The U.S.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Thursday approved the
plan.Following federal approval, Ohio’s
Medicaid director on Friday submitted a request to the Controlling Board
to take up the expansion for two years. The board will make its decision on Oct. 21.The expansion would allow Medicaid, the government-run health insurance program, to cover anyone up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or individuals with an annual income of $15,856.20 or less. The expansion is necessary to fill what officials call a “coverage gap.” Currently, parents with incomes between 90 percent and 100 percent of the federal poverty level and childless adults with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level don’t qualify for either Obamacare’s tax credits or Medicaid.The expansion would be financed with mostly federal funds. Under Obamacare, the federal government pays for the entire expansion through 2016. Afterward, the federal contribution is phased down and indefinitely held at 90 percent of the expansion’s total costs.In comparison, the federal government’s 2013 contribution to Ohio’s Medicaid program was nearly 64 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.The Health Policy Institute of Ohio previously found the expansion would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly half a million Ohioans throughout the next decade.This story was updated with more information.
by German Lopez
Governor bypasses legislature, voter turnout historically low, museum price tag criticized
Gov. John Kasich will not look to the full legislature to expand Medicaid
and is instead asking a seven-member legislative oversight panel to
consider using federal funds for the next two years to expand Medicaid
eligibility to more low-income Ohioans. The Controlling Board, which is
made up of one Kasich appointee, four Republican legislators and two
Democratic legislators, will make its decision on Oct. 21. The expansion
would allow Medicaid, the government-run health insurance program, to
cover all Ohioans up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or
individuals with an annual income of $15,856.20 or less. The Health
Policy Institute of Ohio previously found the expansion would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly half a million Ohioans over the next decade.
Cincinnati’s 2013 mayoral and City Council elections may be on track
for the lowest ever voter turnout. As of Friday, the Hamilton County
Board of Elections had processed 3,173 absentee ballot applications in
Cincinnati. At the same point in 2011, the board had processed 8,964
applications in the city. The numbers come just one month after a measly 5.68 percent of voters cast a ballot in the
mayoral primary election,
much lower than the mayoral primaries held on Sept. 11, 2001, the day
of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and
Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann acknowledges Union Terminal is in need of repairs,
but he says the Museum Center must lower the estimated $180 million
price tag on the project. “These are great facilities, but we don't have
an unlimited amount of dollars, and I think taxpayers expect us to view
their tax dollars in that way. I think that number for the Museum
Center is too high right now. I've encouraged them to bring that number
way down for (county commissioners) to consider having the property tax
payers of this county pay for it,” Hartmann said.
Hamilton County judges say witness intimidation is on the rise,
which could be making it more difficult to put criminals in prison.
Judges are so concerned that they banned cellphones from their
courtrooms after some residents used the devices to take pictures of
witnesses and showed the photos in neighborhoods as an intimidation tactic, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Now, some witnesses are refusing to
testify even when threatened with jail. To them, the threat of violent
crime is so real that some jail time makes more sense in comparison.
City officials plan to break ground today for a new police
station for District 3 on the west side of Cincinnati. The district
serves East Price Hill, East Westwood, English Woods, Lower Price Hill,
Millvale, North Fairmount, Riverside, Roll Hill, Sayler Park,
Sedamsville, South Cumminsville, South Fairmount, West Price Hill and
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the Ohio EPA to explain in writing
why a proposed permit for Murray Energy’s coal slurry project doesn’t
include certain pollution limits. Without the restrictions on specific
toxic gases, the U.S. EPA could reject the project’s permit. Former Ohio
EPA Surface Water Division Chief George Elmaraghy previously said his
call to adhere to pollution limits for coal companies led the Kasich
administration to fire him.
Part of Ohio’s electronic food stamp system temporarily shut down
on Saturday after a glitch cropped up at Xerox, the company that
handles the electronic benefit system. The partial shutdown affected 16
other states as well.
StateImpact Ohio recommends “eight must-read posts” on Ohio’s new Common Core education standards.
Ohio gas prices increased this week, edging toward the U.S. average.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble appeared in Reuters’ list of top 100 innovators for the third year in a row.
Popular Science hosts an in-depth look at what it will take to find life outside of Earth. Hint: It requires more funding and public support.Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days will be extended.
by German Lopez
Streetcar's cancellation unlikely, parking payment shrinks, Kasich could expand Medicaid
By the time a new mayor and City Council candidates take
office in December, the city will have laid out roughly half a mile of
track and spent or contractually obligated at least $117 million
for the streetcar project. The contractual obligations mean it could
cost more to cancel the project than to finish it, which will cost the
city an estimated total of $88 million after deducting $45 million in
federal grants. Still, mayoral candidate John Cranley and several
council candidates insist they will try to cancel the project upon
taking office. Check out CityBeat’s full in-depth story here.
The parking plan’s upfront payment has been reduced to $85 million,
down from $92 million, and the city, as opposed to the Greater
Cincinnati Port Authority, could be on the hook for $14 million to $15
million to build a garage at Seventh and Sycamore streets, according to
an Oct. 9 memo from City Manager Milton Dohoney. The city manager claims
the lump sum payment dropped as a result of rising interest rates and
the Port Authority’s decision to relax parking meter hours outside
Over-the-Rhine and the Cincinnati Business District. The parking plan
leases Cincinnati’s parking meters, lots and garages to the Port
Authority, which plans to hire private companies to operate the assets. CityBeat covered the plan in greater detail here and the controversy surrounding it here.
Gov. John Kasich is considering using an executive order
to expand the state’s Medicaid program with federal funds. The
executive order would expand eligibility for the government-run health
insurance program so it includes anyone up to 138 percent of the federal
poverty level, or nearly $15,900 in annual income for an individual.
Kasich would then on Oct. 21 ask Ohio’s seven-member
legislative-spending oversight panel to approve federal funds for the
expansion. Kasich, a Republican, has aggressively pursued the Medicaid
expansion, which the federal government promises under Obamacare to
completely fund through 2016 then phase down and indefinitely hold its payments at 90
percent of the expansion’s total costs. But Republican legislators
claim the federal government might not be able sustain the payments,
even though the federal government has met its payments for the much
larger overall Medicaid program since it was created in 1965.
At its final full session before the November election, City Council approved nearly $854,000 in tax credits
for Pure Romance to bring the company to downtown Cincinnati for at
least 20 years. Councilman Charlie Winburn, the lone Republican on
council, was the only one to vote against the tax incentives. The city
administration estimates the deal will lead to at least 126 new
high-paying jobs in downtown Cincinnati over three years and nearly $2.6
million in net tax revenue over two decades. Gov. John Kasich’s
administration was originally supposed to provide some tax incentives to
the company, but it ultimately reneged after supposedly deciding that
the company isn’t part of an industry the state typically supports.
Critics say Kasich’s administration is just too “prudish” to support a
company that includes sex toys in its product lineup.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio yesterday announced it’s suing Ohio
over anti-abortion restrictions passed in the 2014-2015 state budget.
The ACLU claims the restrictions are unrelated to the budget and
therefore violate the Ohio Constitution’s “single subject” rule, which
requires each individual law keep to a single subject to avoid
complexity and hidden language. CityBeat covered the state budget in further detail here.
Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman says he’s monitoring the impact of the federal government shutdown
with some concerns. “I’m more concerned if this goes more than four
weeks or so, when we start talking about reimbursement programs for our
larger social programs such as food stamps and cash assistance to the
needy and those types of things. We just don’t have the money to front
that type of thing,” he said. CityBeat covered the shutdown in further detail here.
Hamilton County’s government shrunk by more than one-third in the past decade.
City Council yesterday passed a resolution condemning
State Sen. Bill Seitz’s attempts to weaken Ohio’s renewable energy and
efficiency mandates. A study from Ohio State University and Ohio
Advanced Energy Economy found Ohioans will spend $3.65 billion more on
their electricity bills over the next 12 years if the mandates are
repealed. CityBeat covered the attempts to repeal the mandates in further detail here and the national conservative groups behind the calls to repeal here.
Early voting turnout is so far “anemic,” according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Ohio has the No. 12 worst tax environment among states, according to a report from the Tax Foundation. The rank is unchanged from the previous year’s report.
A central Ohio school might ban Halloween.
Bill Nye explains Jupiter’s big red spot:
Early voting for the 2013 City Council and mayoral elections is now underway. Find your voting location here. Normal voting hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days will be extended.
Groups attempt to educate Ohio’s uninsured while the GOP tries to slow down Obamacare
4 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
As the Oct. 1 opening date approaches for
the Affordable Care Act’s (“Obamacare”) online marketplaces, outreach
campaigns are beginning to take root and aim at states with the largest
uninsured populations, including Ohio.
by German Lopez
Mayoral candidates debate, legislators back Pure Romance, board could expand Medicaid
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and ex-Councilman John Cranley focused most of their disagreement on the streetcar and parking lease
at yesterday’s first post-primary mayoral debate. No matter the
subject, Cranley repeatedly referenced his opposition to the streetcar
project and his belief that it’s siphoning city funds from more
important projects and forcing the city to raise property taxes to pay
for debt. Qualls argued the streetcar project will produce economic
growth and grow the city’s tax base, which the city could then leverage
for more development projects; that claim has been backed by studies
from consulting firm HDR and the University of Cincinnati, which put the
streetcar’s return on investment at three-to-one. On the parking lease,
Qualls claimed money raised through the lease could be used to leverage
economic development projects, while Cranley said the lease would hurt an
entire generation by shifting control of Cincinnati’s parking assets
from the city to the unelected Port Authority and private companies.
State Rep. Denise Driehaus and Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, both of Cincinnati, called on the state government
to reverse its decision to not give local company Pure Romance tax
credits. Pure Romance, a $100 million-plus company whose product lineup
includes sex toys, was planning on moving from Loveland to downtown
Cincinnati with local and state support, but because the state declined
the tax breaks, the company is now considering moving to Covington, Ky.
Gov. John Kasich’s administration has said Pure Romance doesn’t fit into
the traditional industries the state invests in, but Democratic
legislators argue Kasich’s social conservatism is getting in the way of
keeping jobs in Ohio.
Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder says he has “literally no thoughts”
about the possibility of the state expanding Medicaid without the
legislature and through the state Controlling Board — a possibility that
Kasich hinted at earlier in the week. Kasich has been pleading with the
Ohio General Assembly to take up the federally funded Medicaid
expansion, but Republican legislators have so far refused. If the Controlling
Board does expand Medicaid, Batchelder said the state legislature will
likely pass some protections in case the federal government reneges on
its funding proposal. Under Obamacare, states are asked to expand
Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty level; if they accept,
the federal government will pay for the entire expansion through 2016
then phase its payments down to an indefinite 90 percent.Documents uncovered by USA Today further show the IRS, particularly through its offices in Cincinnati, targeted tea party groups by looking at “anti-Obama rhetoric,” inflammatory language and “emotional” statements made by nonprofits seeking tax-exempt status.
Cincinnati’s newest police chief will be sworn in on Sept. 30. The city manager on Friday officially picked Jeffrey Blackwell, deputy chief of the Columbus Division of Police.
The Cincinnati area’s economy grew by 2.7 percent in 2012, slightly higher than the country’s 2.5-percent growth in the same year.
In perhaps another sign of growing local momentum, venture capitalists appear to be investing more in Cincinnati’s entrepreneurs.
Following two high-profile suicides at Ohio’s prisons, an expert on inmate suicides will inspect the state’s facilities and protocols.
Saks Fifth Avenue might move to Kenwood Collection.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble and TriHealth are
among the top 100 companies for working mothers, according to the
magazine Working Mother.
A very rare genetic mutation makes subjects immune to pain.
by German Lopez
Medicaid expansion petition certified, more tax credit secrecy, disparity study in 2015
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine certified a petition effort
that, if approved by voters, would require the state to expand its
Medicaid program. The effort
now must gather roughly 116,000 signatures to be approved by the Ohio
Ballot Board and eventually end up on the 2014 ballot. Under Obamacare, states are asked to expand their Medicaid programs; if
they accept, the federal government will pay for the full expansion
through 2016 then indefinitely phase down its payments to 90 percent
after that. The Health Policy Institute of Ohio previously found
the expansion would insure nearly half a million Ohioans and generate $1.8
billion in extra revenue. But the expansion has been so far rejected by
Republican legislators, who tend to be opposed to government-run health care
programs and say they’re concerned the federal government won’t be able
to uphold its commitment to Medicaid as it has for nearly four decades. CityBeat covered the expansion in greater detail here.
In another example of rising secrecy surrounding JobsOhio, state tax credit estimates are now exempt from public records law,
which means the public will no longer be able to see the value of tax
credits granted to new and expanding businesses. The estimate is used by
JobsOhio to gauge whether it should propose granting a tax break to a certain business, but the
Ohio Development Services Agency says it’s concerned the numbers aren’t
accurate in the long term. In the past few months, JobsOhio has been
mired in controversy because of its lack of transparency. Republicans
argue that JobsOhio’s secretive nature allow the privatized development
agency to move more quickly with job-creating development deals, but
Democrats argue tax dollars are being used with little accountability.
The final results of Cincinnati’s disparity study for city contracts aren’t expected until 2015.
The city is pursuing the study, which is estimated to cost between
$500,000 and $1.5 million, to gauge whether Cincinnati should change its contracting policies
to favorably target minority- and women-owned businesses. The study is
necessary before making such changes because of a U.S. Supreme Court
ruling that requires governments to empirically prove there is a racial or
gender-based disparity before favorably targeting such groups.
Meet Cincinnati’s new police chief: Jeffrey Blackwell.
He’s currently deputy chief at the Columbus Division of Police, where
he’s been for 26 years. Blackwell was picked over three other finalists:
Paul Humphries, who’s been acting Cincinnati Police chief since June; Michael Dvorak, deputy chief of the Mesa, Ariz., Police
Department; and Jerry Speziale, deputy superintendent of the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey Police.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio criticized Debe Terhar,
president of the State Board of Education, for calling Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye
“pornographic” and demanding it be removed from the state’s teaching
guidelines. Terhar and others have criticized the book because it
contains a scene in which a father rapes his daughter. The Common Core
standards adopted by Ohio suggest The Bluest Eye as an example of reading text complexity, quality and range
for high school juniors who are typically 16 or 17 years old, but it’s
ultimately up to school districts to decide whether the novel belongs in
the curriculum. Removing mention of the book from the state’s
guidelines wouldn’t explicitly ban the book in Ohio schools, but it
would weaken the novel’s prominence as a teaching tool.
The University of Cincinnati Medical Center is part of an international effort
involving clinical trials to cure Alzheimer’s, the neurodegenerative
disease with no known cure that causes long-term memory loss, confusion, mood
swings and other symptoms typical of dementia.
Police are searching for an active shooter
on the grounds of the Washington Navy Yard in the District of Columbia.
The shooter has barricaded himself in a room after allegedly shooting
at least three people.
Ohio gas prices are back down.
An unarmed drone club for children with autism might teach the children to view things from different perspectives.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 4, 2013
The federally funded Medicaid expansion
currently being blocked by state Republicans could provide health
insurance to more than 42,000 people living in Hamilton County.
by German Lopez
Charter schools fail, Obamacare lowers costs, Medicaid expansion could help thousands
Ohio charter school have largely failed to live up to their promises, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Charter schools were originally pursued by Ohio
lawmakers to help find a suitable alternative to the state’s struggling
urban public schools. But in the latest school report cards, charter
schools performed just as poorly as urban public schools. Charter
schools are allowed to run a profit and skip on certain state rules and
regulations, which was supposed to give them some leniency in
implementing successful academic models.
Obamacare will lower average health care costs
in Ohio’s individual market, according to a study from RAND
Corporation, a reputable think tank. Although premiums will rise as a
result of the law, the tax credits offered in Obamacare will be more
than enough to offset the increases. The numbers only apply to the
individual marketplaces; anyone who gets insurance through an employer
or public program falls under different rules and regulation. Still, the
findings are good news for Obamacare as the federal government aims to
insure 7 million people — and 2.7 million young, healthy adults among
those — to make the individual marketplaces work. As part of Obamacare,
states and the federal government will open online enrollment for new,
subsidized individual insurance plans on Oct. 1, and the plans will go
into effect at the start of next year.
The Medicaid expansion could insure more than 42,000 people in Hamilton County,
according to the Ohio Poverty Law Center. As part of Obamacare, states
are asked to expand their Medicaid programs to include anyone at or
below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 for a
single-person household). If states accept, the federal government will
pay for the entire expansion for the first three years then phase down
its payments indefinitely to 90 percent of the expansion’s total cost.
Earlier this year, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio released an analysis
that found the Medicaid expansion would insure nearly half a million
Ohioans and save the state about $1.8 billion in the next decade.
Gov. John Kasich says he wants to slow down Attorney General Mike DeWine’s facial recognition program
and work with the Ohio legislature to review if changes are necessary.
Kasich compared the program to federal surveillance programs like the
NSA and FISA, which have come under scrutiny in the past few months
after leaks unveiled broader snooping and data collection of Americans’
private communications than previously expected. The facial recognition
program allows police officers and civilian employees to use a photo to
search databases for names and contact information; previously, law
enforcement officials needed a name or address to search such databases.
The program was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union
because knowledge of the program’s existence was withheld from the
public for two-plus months and an independent group never reviewed the
program’s privacy-protecting protocols.
Democratic City Council candidate Greg Landsman backed the second phase of the streetcar in a column Friday. The endorsement could be vital to the project’s future because Landsman is widely considered a favorite in this year’s City Council race.
JobsOhio’s leaders plan to launch a public relations offensive
to repair the agency’s image. The privatized
development agency has been criticized for its lack of transparency after media outlets uncovered that it was handing
out tax credits to companies with direct financial ties to JobsOhio
board members. Democrats argue the agency needs more transparency and
checks on its recommendations, while Republicans, who created the agency
to replace the Ohio Department of Development, claim the agency’s
privatized, secretive nature allows it to move more quickly with
job-creating development deals.
The University of Cincinnati was named public university of the year
by The Washington Center. The award recognizes UC for supporting
experiential education through its partnership with The Washington
Center, an independent academic organization that serves hundreds of
colleges and universities by providing internships and other
opportunities in Washington, D.C., for school credit.
Police busted a $1 million shoplifting ring in Ohio that targeted discount retail stores along the Interstate 75 corridor, such as Walmart, Meijer, CVS and Family Dollar.
State law will soon require vaccine immunizations against several diseases for children attending school.
Cincinnati-based Kroger is cutting health care benefits for employees’ spouses on Jan. 1, but the plan will also increase pay, stabilize the company’s pension fund and provide more benefits for part-time employees. Obamacare apparently played a role in the decision to cut spousal benefits, but Kroger says the most influential factor was rising health care costs all around the nation — a trend that has been ongoing for decades.
a visualization of the urban heat island effect, which will make cities
warm up much faster as global warming continues.
Could you survive the end of the universe? io9 tackles the question here.