0 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Ohio officials announced on July 23 that
they’ll take a hands-off approach to promoting the Affordable Care Act
(“Obamacare”), leaving it to the federal government to inform citizens
about opportunities and benefits provided under the law.
by German Lopez
Ohioans increasingly reliant on public health insurance
A poll analysis released today suggests more than 1.25
million Ohioans between the ages of 18 and 65 are uninsured,
representing about 17 percent of the state’s working-age population.
The poll also found that working-age Ohioans are obtaining
health insurance less through employers and more through public
insurance programs like Medicare, Medicaid and veteran benefits.
About two in 10 working-age Ohioans use public programs in 2013, up
from 12 percent in 2006. At the same time, 52 percent now get insurance
through an employer, down from 64 percent in 2006.
The numbers are relatively unchanged from 2012, according to the analysis from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.
Nearly one in 10 of those who did have insurance also reported losing it in the past 12 months.
“Certain groups are more likely to experience insurance
instability,” said Jennifer Chubinski, director of community research at the Health Foundation, in a statement. “Almost half of adults living
below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, African-Americans and
adults with less than a high school education were uninsured currently
or at some point in the past year.”The analysis also concluded that Ohioans with health insurance are generally healthier than those without it.
The results came from the 2013 Ohio Health Issues Poll,
which between May 19 and June 2 interviewed 868 Ohio adults by phone.
The poll had a margin of error of 3.3 percent. It was conducted by the
University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research for the Health
The poll’s findings could spur efforts to widen Medicaid eligibility in Ohio, which has become a contentious political issue fueled by mostly Republican opposition and Democratic support.
Under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), states are
asked to expand the public insurance program to include everyone at or
below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or roughly $15,856 for a
single-person household. If a state agrees, the federal government will
pay for the entire expansion for the first three years then phase its support down
to 90 percent, where it would indefinitely remain.
The offer presents a great deal for the state, according to the
Health Policy Institute of Ohio. The think tank’s analysis found the
expansion would insure roughly half a million Ohioans and generate about
$1.8 billion in revenue for the state in the next decade.
But the Republican-controlled General Assembly rejected the expansion in the state budget, despite Republican Gov. John Kasich’s pleas to embrace the Obamacare initiative.
Legislators say they’re concerned the federal government won’t be
able to uphold its commitment to Medicaid in the future. That, they
argue, would leave Ohioans stranded if the
state is forced to pare back benefits.
The federal government and states have jointly funded Medicaid programs around the nation since 1965. About 57 percent of the cost is carried by the federal government.Still, the legislature will in the fall consider a
standalone bill that would take up the expansion. But that bill will
likely face continued opposition from tea party groups that are
historically opposed to increased government spending at any level.
Whatever the case, legislative approval may be politically prudent: Earlier-reported results from the Ohio Health Issues Poll found 63 percent of Ohioans favor the Medicaid expansion.
by German Lopez
Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati hosting event on May 29
A "phone-a-thon" is seeking to address one of the main issues public officials have faced when trying to provide health coverage to low-income Americans: awareness. The event could help reach some of the estimated 15,000 children in southwest Ohio who are uninsured but qualify for Medicaid.The event, which is being hosted by WCPO and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati on May 29, will reach out to families with uninsured children who qualify for Medicaid. It's part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign, a nationwide effort to enroll more children into free and low-cost health insurance programs."Medicaid provides eligible children the coverage they need to address
asthma and allergies, as well other benefits to keep children healthy," the event's release said.
"Children in a family of four earning up to $47,100 a year may qualify
for free or low-cost health insurance. Medicaid not only covers allergy and asthma treatment, but also regular check-ups, immunizations, doctor and dentist visits, hospital care, mental health services, prescriptions and more."For public officials, raising awareness has been one of the biggest hurdles to ensuring widespread health coverage. As the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") kicks in, the problem is becoming even more pronounced as state and federal governments attempt to inform Americans of new insurance options, including health exchanges and expanded Medicaid programs."There's a segment of the population that hasn't interacted with these programs in the past," says Trey Daly, senior attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. "Those folks don't typically know they're eligible."Daly says there's also a segment of the population that has used Medicaid services but stopped after "bad experiences." For those situations, the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati explains the benefits of Medicaid coverage, but it also files forms and applications for participants to help them avoid the bureaucracy and paperwork required for enrolling into Medicaid.The Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati's efforts are funded by a federal grant. Since the program began in 2009, the seven counties in southwest Ohio covered by the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati — Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Clermont, Clinton, Brown and Highland — have increased their Medicaid enrollment of children by 12 percent. The rest of the state has increased enrollment by 4 percent.At the legislative level, there is currently a bill in the Ohio House that would expand the state's Medicaid program with federal funds provided through Obamacare. Republican Gov. John Kasich originally proposed the expansion in his budget plan, but Republican legislators opposed the measure and took it out of their own budget bill.Still, Kasich has continued pushing the expansion, along with Democratic support. A March report from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found the expansion would save the state money and insure half a million Ohioans in the next decade. To participate in the "phone-a-thon," call 513-749-9400. The event will be on Wednesday, May 29, between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 11:37 AM | Permalink
Governor, Democrats, mental health advocates criticize Ohio House Republicans’ budget
Ohio House Republicans are poised to reject the Medicaid
expansion and the $500 million per year in federal funding that would
come with it for the next two years — a move that has united Republican
Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Democrats, mental health advocates and other
health groups in opposition.
The Medicaid expansion is part of a measure in the
Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that encourages states to expand their
Medicaid programs to include anyone at or below 138 percent of the
federal poverty level with the use of federal funds. For the first three
years, the federal government would pick up the entire tab for the
expansion. After that, payments would be phased down over time so the federal
government would be paying 90 percent of costs.
Ohio House Republicans oppose the measure because they say
they’re worried federal funding will dry up in the future, even though
there is no historical precedent of the federal government failing to
pay its commitment to Medicaid.
Kasich’s proposal for the Medicaid expansion includes an
automatic trigger that would immediately stop and retract the expansion
if federal funding falls through, but Ohio Republicans previously voiced
concerns in hearings that the trigger would hurt Ohioans who have
become accustomed to government-provided health insurance without any
plan to make up for the lost coverage.
A report from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found
the expansion would help insure 456,000 Ohioans by 2022 and save the state
money in the next decade by producing economic growth and shifting
health-care expenses from the state to the federal government.
For advocates of mental health and addiction treatments,
Ohio House Republicans’ rejection of the Medicaid expansion and other
budget items means mental health and addiction services will miss out on
$627 million per year, according to a report from the Office of Health Transformation.
Ohio House Republicans’ budget plan would include $50
million more annual funding for mental health and addiction services,
but that’s also not enough to make up for the $140 million in annual funds
cut around the state since 2002 and the $17 million being cut over two
years through the dissolution of the tangible personal property tax
Cheri Walter, chief executive officer of the Ohio
Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (OACBHA), says the Medicaid
expansion is a great opportunity to emphasize mental health services
around the state.
“On the mental health side, ... sometimes it can take two
or more years for someone to get a disability determination that makes
them Medicaid eligible,” she says. “In addition to making more people
Medicaid-eligible, it will speed up the process for many others.”
Walter says for addiction patients in particular, getting
access to health services can be difficult because alcoholism and other
forms of addiction are not technically disabilities. By including more
income levels in the Medicaid program, less people will fall through the
cracks, she says.OACBHA was one of the many groups that rallied at the Ohio Statehouse Thursday in support of the Medicaid expansion. The crowd, which received support from Ohio Democrats and Kasich, was estimated to reach 2,500.
Until the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, the
Medicaid expansion was required, but the court ruled that states must be
allowed to opt in and out.
The Medicaid expansion was one of the few parts of
Kasich’s budget plan that Democrats and progressives approved, while the
two other major proposals in Kasich’s plan — school funding and a tax cut
proposal — were criticized for disproportionately benefiting wealthy Ohioans (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20).
1 Comment · Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Attorney General Mike DeWine says Obamacare infringes on religious liberty, but Republicans just want special economic rules for religious institutions.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
WEDNESDAY JAN. 16: Newport on the Levee has added a new
wrinkle to the movie-watching experience. The seldom-used arcade has
been replaced by MacGuffins Bar & Lounge, which is now open and
serving drinks that can be brought into the movie.
by German Lopez
Plan Cincinnati hearing tonight, fiscal cliff threatens schools, Kasich declines exchanges
City Council’s Livable Communities committee is expected
to hear about and likely vote tonight on the city’s first master plan in more than
30 years. The plan, which CityBeat previously covered,
seeks a renewed emphasis on Cincinnati’s urban core through new
infrastructure and transportation options. It was put together largely
based on public feedback.
The “fiscal cliff,” which is really more of a self-induced austerity crisis from the federal government, could seriously hurt Ohio schools. Educators around the state, including Cincinnati schools, are expecting a cut of about 8 percent in federal funding. A Cincinnati Public Schools levy was recently renewed after a decade of cuts and problems at the school district.
Gov. John Kasich has finally made a decision for Obamacare: The state will not run
the health exchanges that are a big part of the plan. With the
governor’s decision, managing the health exchanges now falls to the
federal government. Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, defended the
governor’s decision by pointing out that even if the state managed the
exchanges, the federal government would always have the final say,
creating an arrangement “just doesn’t make sense for the state.”
Exchanges are subsidized, heavily regulated insurance markets that will
go into effect in 2014 as part of Obamacare. They are supposed to bring
down costs by offering more transparent, open competition through a
fair, regulated marketplace.
Cincinnati’s economy is being carried largely by manufacturing, and that looks likely to continue.
Business schools at the University of Cincinnati, Miami
University, Xavier University and Northern Kentucky University were
found to be among the nation’s best, according to the Princeton Review. Still, none of the schools made the top 10 rankings for the review’s 11 categories.
City Council is holding a public hearing
today to find out what the city should do with casino revenue. Some of
the council members already have plans, but City Council wants public
feedback to shape the final decision.
In other council news, the Human Services Advisory committee recommended funding
for 56 out of 58 programs. The two programs left out are the
Over-The-Rhine Kitchen and a social education program offered by the
Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati.
Cincinnati’s Metro bus service will be getting a revamp in the next few years. The company released a comprehensive plan with short-term and long-term goals that focus on increasing travel speed and reach.
Charter schools are where a large amount of Ohio kids are getting their education. This is despite the fact that, in general, traditional public schools perform better than charter schools, according to state standards.
Food stamps for Ohio families are getting reduced by about $25 a month. The good news is the cut is lower than expected.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction released a “re-inspection report”
for the Lake Erie prison owned by Corrections Corporation of America.
According to the new report, CCA has come a long way and corrected many
of the violations the state originally found in the private prison. The
last report found the prison, which CCA bought in 2011, was riddled with problems. CityBeat looked at private prisons, their problems and the shady connections between state officials and CCA in an in-depth report.
found more Ohioans are taking advantage of a national settlement that
lets households refinance their mortgages. In total, more than 4,500
Ohioans have refinanced for $165 million in consumer relief. Still, many
eligible Ohioans are not taking advantage of the opportunity.
Here are pictures of a tiny octopus, fighting female robots and an orange-powered battery.
by German Lopez
Decision means federal government will take over
Gov. John Kasich is refusing to work with Obamacare. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the governor today declined to have the state government run its health
insurance exchange. With the move, the federal government will be put
in charge of managing Ohio’s exchange.
Exchanges are subsidized, heavily regulated insurance
markets that will go into effect in 2014 as part of Obamacare. They are supposed to bring down costs by offering more
transparent, open competition through a fair, regulated marketplace. As
part of Obamacare, states have to decide by Dec. 14 whether they’ll manage
the exchanges or let the federal government do it.
Conservatives were quick to praise Kasich's decision. Americans for
Prosperity applauded the choice in a statement. The Buckeye
Institute put up a blog post calling the move “the right decision for Ohio.” The Coalition
Opposed to Additional Taxes and Spending (COAST) called the move
the right choice.
At first, the choice seems like a contradiction for
conservatives. After all, they’re the group that normally rails against a
big federal government. Why let the federal government take over a new,
major part of the health-care system? Rob Nichols, Kasich’s
spokesperson, justified the decision in a statement: “Ohio would have no
flexibility to shape an exchange to our needs and its costs will be so
high that it just doesn’t make sense for the state to operate a health
exchange under Obamacare.” In other words, even if the state managed the
exchanges, it would still have to answer to the federal government.
In his letter, Kasich also stated Ohio will not give up
its right to regulate the insurance market. So the federal government
will have the final say on exchanges, but Kasich wants to keep the rest
of the market under state regulatory control. The state will also keep
control over deciding Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Plan
Ohio is not alone in declining to supervise exchanges. Other states have
signed off on letting the federal government manage them, including
Florida and Texas.
Still, Republicans may want to proceed cautiously. Recent polling has shown that support for repealing Obamacare has massively dropped.
That shift could reflect reality catching up to public opinion.
Republicans tend to rail against Obamacare by saying it’s too expensive,
but a Congressional Budget Office report found repealing Obamacare
would increase the deficit by $109 billion between 2013 and 2022.
by German Lopez
Ohio may get anti-abortion law, city budget proposal soon, state ponders health exchange
If Tuesday's election was supposed to be a strong message from social progressives, women and younger voters, Ohio Republicans are not getting it. Instead, they are continuing their pursuit of the heartbeat bill. That’s what Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus told The Cincinnati Enquirer yesterday. At the time the heartbeat bill was originally suggested, it was called the most radical anti-abortion bill in the country.
Yet Republicans, in cooperation with anti-abortion organizations, are
pushing a version of the bill once again. Ohio Republicans have also
shown interest in continuing their crusade against Planned Parenthood,
according to Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice
Cincinnati’s budget proposal is coming later this month.
Specifically, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls says it will arrive Nov. 26.
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. and his budget team are currently
working on a budget to close a $40 million general fund deficit. One idea that
was suggested recently in a memo was privatizing parking services,
but it faces skepticism from Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.
The budget will first go through Dohoney, then the mayor and then City
Council. However, this calendar year’s budget will only cover six months, and then the city will transition into
filing budgets based on fiscal years on July 1.To match some of Obamacare’s requirements, Ohio officials are considering a hybrid approach to health care exchanges.
The exchanges are federally regulated insurance markets. As part of
Obamacare, states have the option of creating their own exchange
programs, which have to be approved by the federal government; setting
up a hybrid approach, which is what Ohio is looking into doing; or
putting the responsibility on the federal government.
During the lame duck session, the Ohio legislature will
take up legislation to regulate puppy mills and election reform. Regulations on puppy mills were previously covered by CityBeat
when a group tried to get dog auctions banned in the state.
Election reform could mean a lot of things. The current
Republican-controlled legislature previously tried to restrict and limit
in-person early voting before repealing its own rules. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has also suggested “more strict” voter ID laws.
In other election news, an upset federal judge demanded
Husted’s attorneys explain a last-minute directive that changed rules
on provisional ballots. U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley told
the lawyers, “You have a lot of explaining to do.” The directive, which
Husted sent out Nov. 2, shifted the burden of providing identification for provisional ballots
from poll workers to voters. Voter advocates argued the directive was
against Ohio law and would lead to more provisional ballots, which are
ballots filed when a voter’s eligibility to vote is uncertain, being
wrongly rejected. Husted and Republicans were heavily criticized for alleged attempts at voter suppression in the run-up to the election.
City Council approved a $750,000 tax break for the E.W. Scripps Company. As part of the deal, Scripps will hire for 125 new local jobs and retain 184 current employees.
The Wall Street Journal covered
Cincinnati’s “pie war” between Frisch’s and Busken Bakery.
CincyTech, a nonprofit venture organization, has invested $14.3 million since it began five years ago.
Its investments, which focus on information technology and life
sciences, have helped create more than 360 jobs, according to company
As part of a national movement, Cincinnati-based Kroger will be making an effort to hire more military veterans. Republican Gov. John Kasich is focused on his re-election bid for 2014.
When asked about whether he will run for president in 2016, Kasich said
he has not made any announcements. The news came shortly after the
Ohio Democratic Party began printing signs that say “Kasich... you’re
next” on one side and “2014 can’t come soon enough” on the other.
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel won’t be leaving state politics any time soon. He says he’ll be running for re-election in 2014.
Mandel is the Republican who led a failed bid for U.S. Senate
against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. His campaign was notorious for its dishonesty.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, may take up running the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2014. That would put him in charge of managing the Republican Party’s senate campaigns for the year. Republicans are expected to make gains in the U.S. Senate in 2014
because 20 Democratic seats will be up for grabs, in comparison to 13
Republican seats, and 12 of the Democratic seats are in swing or red
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives won the
popular vote, but they ultimately lost the House. The culprit for
the discrepancy seems to be politicized redistricting.
In Ohio, the Republican-led committee redrew congressional district
boundaries to give Republicans an advantage. The First Congressional
District, which includes Cincinnati, was redrawn to include
Republican-leaning Warren County, which slanted the district in favor of
Republicans and diluted the say of Cincinnati’s Democratic-leaning
urbanites. On this year’s ballot, Issue 2 attempted to tackle the redistricting issue, but Ohio voters overwhelmingly voted it down.
Some scientists are really excited by the discovery of “Super Earth.”
What doomed the Mayans? Climate change.
by German Lopez
A performance audit for the Cincinnati Service Department
could save the city $3.7 million. The audit claims $2 million could be
saved every year if the city privately contracted solid waste collection
and street sweeping. An additional $1.7 million could be saved if the
city reduced overtime, sick leave and staffing levels. Along with other recommended savings measures, the changes could
amount to 7.9 percent of Cincinnati’s budget.
Trayvon Martin’s parents will be visiting Cincinnati today to
take part in the national conference hosted by the Children’s Defense
Fund. The conference will target violence and race-related issues.
Procter & Gamble and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
have teamed up to improve environmental sustainability at manufacturing
facilities and supply chains.
The worst U.S. drought in half a century is putting pressure on
oil and gas companies to recycle and conserve water used for fracking.
Fracking uses millions of gallons of water to free oil and gas from
underground rock formations.
Gay marriage has generated $259 million in economic activity in New York City.
The Congressional Budget Office said repealing Obamacare would increase the deficit by $109 billion.
Voters sometimes punish politicians for bad weather.
Some scientists are saying the plot of The Amazing Spider-Man might not be too far off from reality.