State News headlines


U.S. House Budget Would Endanger Older Adults, People Living with Disabilities and Children

Media Statement from Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks:

“This week, the U.S. House Budget Committee approved its 2018 budget resolution, which strips billions of dollars from a program that helps working families, seniors and people living with disabilities put food on the table. The budget includes major reductions in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, in addition to drastic cuts to other programs that expand economic opportunity for everyday Ohioans.

“SNAP is one of the most cost-effective tools we have in the fight against hunger and poverty. In Ohio, about 85 percent of all SNAP participants are children, seniors or people with disabilities. Not only is it the right thing to do to make sure everyone has enough nutritious food to eat, it’s also good for our entire economy. When families can afford to buy groceries, it pumps money back into local businesses, instead of putting more families into our food pantry lines more frequently. This budget plan would devastate millions of families – and the businesses that rely on their spending.

“Before we made a national commitment to end hunger, some areas of the country, including Ohio’s Appalachian region, had serious problems with hunger, including children suffering from malnutrition. Although the help that SNAP provides is extremely modest – averaging only $1.38 per person per meal in Ohio – the program keeps more than eight million people out of poverty nationwide, including nearly four million children.

“Ohio’s charitable hunger relief network is committed to feeding the hungry in our community. But if Ohio families lose SNAP benefits, we won’t be able to make up the difference. Members of Ohio’s congressional delegation should protect SNAP and other poverty-reduction programs in the federal budget. We all win when our communities are healthy and prosperous.”

New legislation would ensure young pregnant women get adequate care

COLUMBUS— State Reps. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) announced new legislation to help ensure young pregnant women in Ohio have a say in their own healthcare decisions.

“I believe that all expectant mothers should have access to healthcare and safe delivery options, regardless of their age,” said Boggs. “I hope this legislation will encourage expectant mothers to get the care they need to support their health, and their baby’s health, even if their legal guardians are unwilling to support their pregnancy.”

Ohio law currently includes a judicial emancipation process for minors who wish to make their own medical decisions. However, many pregnancy-related medical conditions must be immediately addressed in order to ensure the best health outcome for the mother and future child.

“A labor and delivery nurse actually brought this important issue to my attention,” said Antonio. “Too many young women in Ohio are not receiving the prenatal treatment they desperately need. This legislation will help ensure happy, healthy babies are brought into the world.”

HB 302 will allow pregnant minors to consent to healthcare from the prenatal stage through delivery.

“As a nurse it is my duty to operate as a patient advocate. I reached out to Rep. Antonio to do just that – to advocate for my patients,” said Maureen Sweeney, a Cleveland-area nurse and constituent of Rep. Antonio. “Under current law minors are unable to consent to procedures during pregnancy and later during delivery, resulting in delayed medical intervention. Pregnancy should not be a traumatic experience. My hope is that with this legislation young women will be able to consent to care, resulting in healthier outcomes for themselves and their children.”

HB 302 will be considered by a committee once the Ohio House of Representatives returns from the summer recess in September.

Gibbons: Brown Fails Ohio Once Again

Cleveland – Ohio Businessman and US Senate Candidate, Mike Gibbons released the following statement on Senator Sherrod Brown’s vote against taking up the repeal of Obamacare.

“Today, Senator Sherrod Brown failed the citizens of Ohio once again. He picked politics and his fellow career politicians over the hard-working families of Ohio.

“No matter how you feel about the intentions of Obamacare, it is hard to argue that it isn’t failing. Premiums have risen, insurance choice has dwindled, and jobs have been lost. The politicians in Washington owe it to the American people to stay in Washington, D.C. until we get this right. By failing to vote to open debate, Senator Brown has shown an unwillingness to have an open and public discussion on lowering the cost of quality health insurance and most importantly, lowering the cost of health care itself. It is past time for Senator Brown and his colleagues to quit playing politics and to actually get to work helping Ohio families.”

Budget Chief says ODPRA backers ignore drug discounts Ohio already receives

Columbus – An analysis by former Ohio Budget Director Greg Browning has found that a key claim by proponents of the so-called Ohio Drug Price Relief Act is “simply false and without merit.”

Backers of the November ballot issue have repeatedly asserted that passing the initiative would save Ohio at least $400 million per year.[1] But Browning, who served as Ohio Budget Director from 1991-98, says that in making that claim, proponents appear to have “ignored the significant discounts Ohio currently receives on prescription drugs” and thereby “used faulty logic involving the most basic of relevant policy and fiscal realities.”

In FY 2015, for example, the state spent a net of approximately $1.5 billion on prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients. To reach the alleged “$400 million” in savings, ODPRA backers appear to have deducted approximately 20 percent (close to the federally mandated VA discount of 24 percent) from that $1.5 billion figure. They also appear to have made similar faulty assumptions concerning savings that could be realized from non-Medicaid drug purchases, which are already being discounted significantly.

In reality, however, Ohio’s expenditure on Medicaid drugs in 2015 was over $2 billion. But thanks to a federally mandated Medicaid discount of 23 percent on brand name drugs and significant additional discounts the state negotiated with manufacturers, hundreds of millions of dollars were rebated to Ohio, thus reducing the state’s actual expenditure to $1.5 billion. In other words, Ohio is already receiving a discount of well over 25 percent on the vast majority of the drugs it purchases—a fact that ODPRA proponents either don’t know or are deliberately choosing to ignore.

Said Dale Butland, Communications Director for Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue:

“This is a perfect example of why the so-called Ohio Drug Price Relief Act is deceptive and misleading. ODPRA proponents want voters to believe that while the VA receives a 24 percent discount on the drugs it purchases, our state government pays full price. Either they don’t know that Ohio is already getting a huge discount, or they’re intentionally misleading the voters. But either way, their claim that passing the ballot initiative could save taxpayers an additional $400 million per year—on top of the at least $500 million we’re already saving—is utterly preposterous. The truth is that both the VA and the state of Ohio receive significant mandatory discounts on the drugs they purchase, and both negotiate significant additional discounts with drug manufacturers. Ballot issue proponents are great at making wild claims, but not so good at providing evidence to back them up. It’s time they were held to account. How, exactly, did they come up with their $400 million savings figure? It’s time they showed their math.”

[1] Laura Hancock, “Group Behind Drug Price Ballot Issue Says Ohio Could Save $400 Million a Year,” Cleveland.com, accessed June 27, 2017, http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2017/06/group_behind_drug_price_ballot.html.

Secret Panel Dismisses ProgressOhio Complaint Against Justice Kennedy; Case File a Secret, Too

COLUMBUS – A three-judge panel dismissed an ethics complaint against Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy that was filed by ProgressOhio and signed by doctors, patients, consumer groups and medical students.

Though the ethics complaint was dismissed, the identity of the deciding judges and legal reasoning remain secret.

“This dismissal shows that Ohio’s most powerful state court is also its least accountable,” said ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis. “Those handling the complaint refused to even identify the judges who cleared Kennedy.”

A brief letter that announces the dismissal states, “[u]nless the justice against whom the grievance has been filed agrees otherwise, the matter shall remain private unless and until a formal complaint is filed.”

Filed May 17, the complaint centered on Kennedy’s decision to speak at a March 17 fundraiser hosted by Greater Toledo Right to Life, even though at the time the court was deciding on a case that could close Toledo’s last abortion clinic. Right to Life has successfully lobbied to close half of Ohio’s abortion clinics and add 18 new abortion restrictions to Ohio law – including one restriction facing a challenge before the very court on which Kennedy sits.

The complaint called Justice Kennedy’s speech “a clear violation of the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct’s call to ‘avoid the appearance of impropriety’ and ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’”

Kennedy has been endorsed by Ohio Right To Life and some of its affiliates, and in a questionnaire she filled out for Cincinnati Right to Life, she agreed that “an unborn child is biologically human at every stage of his or her biological development, beginning at fertilization….” By agreeing with the statement, Kennedy disagrees with prevailing U.S. Supreme Court decisions on abortion rights and is at odds with major medical groups that support continued access to safe and legal abortions.

A decision in the Toledo case has not been announced.

ProgressOhio organized the complaint. It was signed by 51 individuals and the following organizations: Ohio National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Physicians Action Network, Women’s March Ohio, Fulton County Indivisible Alliance and Northwest Ohio Indivisible Coalition, Equality Ohio, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Women Have Options, Democratic Voices of Ohio, Ohio Voter Rights Coalition, Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, Indivisible Columbus District 3, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus and Medical Students for Choice at Ohio University.

FACT CHECK: Trump’s Broken Health Care Promises Mislead Ohioans

Donald Trump was in Ohio, repeating more of the same debunked lies about health care. What he won’t mention is that the health care repeal that Republicans just advanced breaks nearly every promise he made to Ohioans. The fact remains that this bill will have a devastating impact on Ohioans and Americans across the country. Rather than peddling a plan that would cause millions of people to lose their health coverage, Trump and Republicans, like Senator Rob Portman, should work with Democrats on a publicly available bill that improves our health care system and lowers premiums.

TRUMP FALSELY CLAIMED THAT THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM WAS COLLAPSING & USED A FLAWED REPORT TO EXAGGERATE PREMIUM INCREASES UNDER THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

TRUMP:

“The deductibles are so high; you don’t want to use it anyway. If you need it, you’ll never get to use it because the deductibles have gotten so high. It’s a horror show. We’re going to repeal it and replace it.” – Trump at a campaign rally in Cleveland, OH, 10/22/16

“In Alaska, they’ve gone up 207 percent on Obamacare. You know, I used to mention only Arizona because they were up 116 percent in Arizona.” – Trump remarks at lunch with members of Congress, 6/13/17

REALITY:

“The White House and President Trump used a flawed report to claim the Affordable Care Act led to premiums’ doubling and tripling. … Mr. Trump compares two fundamentally different universes of plans: all the plans on the individual market in 2013 and those only on the federal exchange in 2017 ” – The New York Times

“Fact Check: Obamacare is not in A ‘death spiral’” – CBS News

“Death spiral? Obamacare insurers may be having ‘best year’ yet under ACA.” – McClatchy

“Under the health care law, the nation’s uninsured rate has fallen to a historic low of about 9 percent, with some 20 million people gaining coverage since its passage in 2010.” – Associated Press

“Claims that Obamacare is in a ‘death spiral’ are misleading. The latest studies show that the government regulated insurance market has stabilized as carriers raised rates to cover costs while federal subsidies prevented people from feeling the brunt of premium increases.” – Politifact

“Contrary to the ‘death-spiral’ narrative, the CMS report found that the mix of healthy and sick people buying insurance on the Obamacare marketplaces in 2016 was surprisingly similar to those who enrolled in 2015.” – FiveThirtyEight

“The latest data shows enrollment is increasing slightly and younger (typically healthier) people are signing up at the same rate as last year. And while premiums are increasing, that isn’t affecting the cost to most consumers due to built-in subsidies.” – PolitiFact

TRUMP PROMISED OHIOANS THAT HE WOULD ‘TAKE CARE OF’ EVERYONE WHO COULD NOT AFFORD HEALTH CARE, BUT THE GOP REPEAL WOULD FORCE OHIOANS TO PAY MORE FOR LESS COVERAGE

TRUMP:

“We’re going to have a great plan, we’re getting rid of the boundaries, we’re going to have great private competition, and you’re going to have plans now that we can’t even talk about because these companies will come up with plans. And it’s going to be so much less expensive and so much better. And for the people that can’t afford that, we’re going to take care of them…We’ve going to take care of people. We can’t have people dying in the streets.” – Trump at a campaign rally in Columbus, OH, 8/1/16

REALITY:

“A revised Republican health care bill would drive up the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million by 2026, the Congressional Budget Office estimated…” – Associated Press

“The [ACA] law also required insurers to cover a wider range of benefits than before. These included annual doctor’s visits, preventive screenings, prescription benefits and mental-health care – often without charge.” – The Guardian

TRUMP CLAIMED THE REPUBLICAN HEALTH REPEAL BILL WOULD HELP FIGHT THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC, BUT IT WOULD ACTUALLY EXACERBATE THE CRISIS

TRUMP:

“We’re going to take all of these kids—and people, not just kids—that are totally addicted and they can’t break it. We’re going to work with them, we’re going to spend the money, we’re gonna get that habit broken.” – Trump at a campaign rally in Columbus, OH, 8/1/16

REALITY:

“Medicaid expansion under Obamacare opened up treatment options in many states experiencing high rates of opioid deaths and addiction… Advocates and experts say that $45 billion is a tiny fraction of the money that would be needed to make up for Medicaid cuts and that targeted funding is a poor substitute for guaranteeing that addiction treatment is covered.” – FiveThirtyEight

“With one hand, they giveth $45 billion to fund the fight against the national opioid epidemic. with the other, they taketh away $800 billion from Medicaid, a quarter of which’s funds are used to provide opioid-related care to millions of Americans.” – NBC News

TRUMP PROMISED TO “PUT PATIENTS FIRST” WHILE VERSIONS OF THE REPUBLICAN REPEAL WOULD WEAKEN PROTECTIONS FOR THOSE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

TRUMP:

“We’re going to replace government run Obamacare with reforms that put patients first. These reforms include expanding access to popular healthcare savings accounts, empowering Americans to shop for their insurance so that they can really have great choice right across straight lines, and to block granting and really important Medicaid to the states so they can design innovative solutions to the best. It’s going to be solutions, folks, that best serve you, your families, your children, the whole things, best serve you.” – Trump at a campaign rally in Toledo, OH, 9/21/16

REALITY:

“[The Senate bill] includes a modified version of a proposal by conservative Senators Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, that would allow insurers to sell plans that do not meet Obamacare’s regulations. That means they don’t have to not cover ‘essential health benefits,’ which include everything from hospitalization to maternity care.” – NBC News

“But it allows states to apply for waivers to change essential health benefits, a set of services insurers now must provide.” – New York Times

TRUMP PROMISED TO PROTECT MEDICAID AND THAT THE GOP BILL WOULD GIVE STATES MORE FLEXIBILITY, BUT IT WOULD ACTUALLY SLASH STATE FUNDING AND REQUIRE STATES LIKE OHIO TO DIG INTO THEIR BUDGETS OR SCALE BACK MEDICAID PROGRAMS

TRUMP:

“The bill provides ‘more flexibility for states to administer Medicaid to better serve their poorest citizens’…” – Trump remarks on health care, 7/24/17

REALITY:

“Either way, many federal rules would disappear, and states would gain the flexibility to spend Medicaid dollars as they see fit, as Trump said.” – Politifact

“Governors indeed would have more flexibility, but they’d also have to dig deeper into their state budgets to make up missing money from Washington or scale back the program.” – Associated Press

“James Waltimire, a police officer on unpaid medical leave, has been going to the hospital in this small city twice a week for physical therapy after leg surgery, all of it paid for by Medicaid. Mr. Waltimire, 54, was able to sign up for the government health insurance program last year because Ohio expanded it to cover more than 700,000 low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act. He voted for President Trump — in part because of Mr. Trump’s support for law enforcement — but is now worried about the Republican plan to effectively end the Medicaid expansion through legislation to repeal the health care law.” – New York Times

“‘Originally the president said he wasn’t going to do nothing to Medicaid,’ Mr. Waltimire said the other day after a rehab session. ‘Now they say he wants to take $880 billion out of Medicaid. That’s going to affect a lot of people who can’t afford to get insurance.’” – New York Times

“Additionally, although both the House and Senate health reform bills would roll back Medicaid expansion and cut Medicaid spending, 32 percent of respondents want to increase Medicaid funding in Ohio, 47 percent want it to remain unchanged, and only 14 percent want it decreased.” – American Medical Association

TRUMP PROMISED OHIOANS HE WOULD SAVE JOBS BY REPEALING OBAMACARE BUT REPUBLICAN ATTEMPTS TO REPEAL OBAMACARE THREATEN JOBS IN OHIO’S CRUCIAL HEALTH CARE SECTOR

TRUMP:

“We are going to repeal and replace Obamacare, saving another 2 million jobs over the next decade alone.” – Trump campaign speech in Akron, OH, 8/22/16

“We’re talking about wages where some of you in this audience, hardworking incredible Americans were making more money 20 years ago than you are making today and today you’re older and you are working harder. And in many cases you have two jobs. Some of that is because of Obamacare and by the way, we are repealing and replacing Obamacare. We can reverse the stagnation and usher in a period of true opportunity and growth.” – Trump ‘Thank You Tour’ rally in Cincinnati, OH, 12/1/16

REALITY:

“1 in 4 private sector jobs in the county are now in health care. The region’s biggest employer by far is the local hospital. Trinity Health System provides about 1,500 full-time jobs and close to 500 part-time jobs, more than Jefferson County’s top 10 manufacturing companies combined… And health care leaders worry that the Republican proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could take many health care jobs away.” – NPR

Ohio Department of Public Safety Partners with Nextdoor, the Private Social Network for Neighborhoods

First state agency in the Midwest, third across the country to partner with the network

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) announced a partnership with Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods, to improve statewide communications and safety by connecting with residents on a hyper-local level. ODPS is the first statewide agency in the Midwest, and the third across the entire country, to partner with the neighborhood network.

This integration will enable ODPS to use Nextdoor to build stronger, safer and more prepared communities with the help of Ohio residents. On Nextdoor, ODPS and Nextdoor neighborhoods are able to work together to improve safety related to emergency preparedness, strengthen community engagement, and better prepare for, mitigate and recover from emergency situations.

ODPS joins nearly 80 other local Ohio agencies on the platform including the City and Police of Columbus, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the City and Police of Cincinnati and the Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management.

“It is important to embrace innovative ways to help keep our communities strong and resilient,” said John Born, ODPS Director.

With Nextdoor, Ohio residents create private neighborhood websites to share information, including neighborhood public safety issues, community events and activities, local services, and even lost pets. ODPS will use Nextdoor to share important news and updates, provide preparedness information, and communicate with residents before, during and after times of emergency. It will use Nextdoor to relay important and timely information, however Nextdoor is not a replacement for 911.

Nextdoor is free for residents and agencies. Each Ohio neighborhood has its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, accessible only to residents of that neighborhood. Neighborhoods establish and self-manage their own Nextdoor website and ODPS is not able to access residents’ websites, contact information, or content. All members must verify that they live within the neighborhood before joining Nextdoor. Information shared on Nextdoor is password protected and cannot be accessed by Google or other search engines.

ODPS joins over 2,300 public agencies across the country that are using Nextdoor for Public Agencies to build stronger relationships with residents. Those interested in joining their neighborhood’s Nextdoor website can visit nextdoor.com and enter their address.

If residents have questions about their Nextdoor website, please visit help.nextdoor.com.

Community Projects in Columbus and Akron Encourage and Inspire Residents

Organization creates eye-catching mural in Akron while providing complimentary laundry services in Columbus during simultaneous weekend projects

COLUMBUS, Ohio – (July 13, 2017) – An inspiring and colorful 10-by-40-foot mural, led by Current Initiatives (Current), will adorn Akron’s downtown area. The project comes to life Saturday, July 15 at Downtown Laundromat located at 1035 S. Main St. with media opportunities available between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and again between 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Murals are typically completed in conjunction with Current’s Laundry Project which assists lower-income communities by providing the necessary items to wash and dry clothes and linens.

Also in Columbus, a Laundry Project is underway between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at SC Wash & Tan Laundromat located at 4396 Cleveland Ave. Duckworth Enterprises serves as sponsor for this project.

Established in 2016, the #CLEANcampaign is a partnership between Current and Tampa-based creative studio, Pep Rally, Inc., which has developed several mural designs. The vibrant hues accompany the word “CLEAN”, which stand out as a message of hope and positivity to residents. To date, six different artists have drafted 14 designs for the project. The murals can be found at various laundromat locations across Tampa Bay, as well as in New Orleans, Fort Myers, Las Vegas and Chicago.

Current plans to create additional murals at partnering laundromat locations across the nation. Poster prints of the various mural designs can be purchased online at bit.ly/LP-CLEAN in support of future Laundry Projects.

Founded in 2008, the Laundry Project has assisted lower-income families and residents in more than 24 cities across the country by providing the laundry detergent, fabric softener and quarters needed to wash and dry clothes and linens. To date, the organization has washed more than 103,640 loads of laundry for approximately 11,276 families in nearly 450 laundry service projects nationwide.

About Current Initiatives

Current Initiatives is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization incorporated in Florida that started with young adults committed to educating others on current social initiatives and mobilizing them to bring about change. Current establishes community groups for awareness and education and organizes local initiatives such as the Laundry Project, Hope For Homes Project and Affordable Christmas. To learn more about Current Initiatives, visit www.EngagetheCurrent.org, or view photos of past Laundry Projects at www.LaundrybyCurrent.org.

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