The Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty: The Impact of Dropout Recovery Schools
By Brie Lusheck
Public Policy Associate
October 19, 2017

The Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty (STFEP) met on October 12 to discuss the impact dropout recovery schools have on students in poverty. In addition to the testimony from dropout recovery schools, the committee heard testimony from former State Representative Jim Buchy, who presented on the benefits of agricultural education.

By incorporating agri-science and programming, the George Washington Carver STEM School in Cleveland has seen significant achievements made in academic performance. In the last graduating class, for example, the top six graduates were Future Farmers of America (FFA) members.  Other anecdotal successes noted in Representative Buchy’s testimony include an increased eagerness to learn, more involvement by students in after-school activities such as 4-H, exposing children in “food deserts” to new healthy options, and a greater interest by students considering careers in agri-science (Ohio’s number one industry).


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The Commission on Infant Mortality

By Brie Lusheck
Public Policy Associate
October 13, 2017

The Commission on Infant Mortality met Wednesday, October 11, for the first time in over a year and a half.  The commission focused on the work that began with the passage of Senate Bill 332, focusing on what has happened since the last meeting (April 28, 2016) and what the state has been doing regarding implementation of the bill. The commission heard testimony from Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO), Moms2B, Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and Celebrate One.

HPIO testified on the details of the contract they were awarded by the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) as a part of Senate Bill 332, which specified more research to be conducted on social determinants of health and how they relate to infant mortality. The report, due to LSC by December 1, will review policies and programs specific to infant mortality and housing, transportation, education, and employment.  Additionally, HPIO is charged with identifying opportunities to improve policies and programs, study impacts of state-funded rental assistance programs, and evaluate best practices from other states.  HPIO reported about the active involvement of stakeholders in the report.



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The Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty: The State’s Superintendent Weighs In
By Brie Lusheck
Public Policy Associate
October 3, 2017

On Thursday, September 28, 2017, the Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty heard from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria.

From the start, Superintendent DeMaria challenged the committee by saying there is “no more important challenge that we must address.” Having set the tone for the remainder of his presentation, the superintendent dug into district, building, and student data from across the state, highlighting the newly released Ohio School Report Card data that were made available September 14.


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Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee: Medicaid Budgeting and the Behavioral Health Redesign
By Loren Anthes, Fellow, Center for Medicaid Policy

&
Adam White, Graduate Assistant
September 27, 2017

On September 21, the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) met to discuss the state budget process and the Behavioral Health Redesign and, on September 22, the state convened one of its regional forums on the redesign for providers. These two events can demonstrate how policy is discussed in the context of committee and the practical effects these discussions may have on the behavioral health system.

In JMOC, Directors Barbara Sears and Tracy Plouck presented on the Medicaid budget and the behavioral health redesign. To frame the conversation, the administration presented its current biennial funding scheme as a “gap,” citing the lack of policy tools authorized by the General Assembly in the most recent budget process. As they explained, cuts to hospital rates and adjustments to hospital supplemental payments and managed care were necessary to achieving budget neutrality in the appropriation expectations set by the legislature. This framework was not well-received by members of JMOC who made claims that the acceptance of the budget by the governor may be unconstitutional, that efforts to control costs could be made at the expense of providers and the clients they serve, and that the Ohio Department of Medicaid did not have the adequate legal authority to change payment rates. Specifically in regard to redesign, several members voiced concerns that the current budgeting proposal, and the redesign itself, could cause complications in the delivery of care for individuals with mental illness or substance use issues.





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Budish Administration Unveils Five-Year HHS Strategic Plan
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate and Community Advocacy
September 25, 2017

The first Health, Human Service and Aging (HHSA) Committee meeting in several months took place on September 13, 2017, with a presentation from Tom Pristow, director of the Department of Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services, unveiling the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Service Strategic Plan. The plan is a result of legislation pushed by Cuyahoga County Councilman Dale Miller, which proposed a five-year HHS strategic plan, similar to the five-year economic development plan already enshrined in the county charter.

In partnership with The Center for Community Solutions, the county hosted a series of focus groups that requested input from county residents, as well as briefed them on the current service and direction of the department. The final report, available here, includes several goals, including the “No wrong door” policy, where citizens will be able to go into any county building and be able to access services that they need.




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New ADAMHS Board CEO Testifies to HHSA Committee
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate and Community Advocacy
September 25, 2017

The September 20, 2017 meeting of the Cuyahoga Council Health, Human Services and Aging Committee, was attended by all members of the committee and Council President Dan Brady.

The meeting featured a presentation by Valeria Harper, the incoming chief executive officer of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board. She was joined by Chief Financial Officer Frank Brickner; Scott Osiecki, Chief of External Affairs; and Chief Quality Officer John Garrity, Ph.D. Ms. Harper opened with remarking that she is in her 52nd day as CEO, though she previously served as Chief Operating Officer and has been involved in the work of the ADAMHS board for many years.




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The Speaker's Task Force on Education and Poverty:
Work Continues as the Committee Hears from National Expert

By Brie Lusheck
Public Policy Associate
September 22, 2017 

On Thursday, September 14, the Speaker's Task Force on Education and Poverty (STFEP) heard a presentation from Dr. Matt Weyer, early childhood education senior policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).  Dr. Weyer focused his testimony on the effects of poverty on school-age children, opportunity gaps, high-quality pre-kindergarten, and what other states around the nation are doing through policy to address the barriers to education that face students living in poverty.



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The Big Shift – Did it Happen?

By Emily Muttillo
Applied Research Fellow
September 14, 2017

 

In a previous blog, the CCS Research team identified some trends we would be looking for in the U.S. Census Bureau data released today.  The big day is here – let’s take a look! 




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Census Update: Ohio’s Uninsured Rates Continue to Decline

By Kate Warren
Research Associate
September 14, 2017 

Looking at Census insurance data is a great example of how policy can truly move the needle on issues facing our communities. The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion have allowed hundreds of thousands of Ohioans to access the healthcare they need, and the number of people impacted by this policy grows each year.

In the state of Ohio, as in the nation, the number of uninsured people dropped once again in 2016. Between 2015 and 2016, an additional 102,548 Ohioans gained health insurance coverage, a statistically significant change. The number of uninsured people in the state dropped 14 percent. As of 2016, only 5.6 percent of Ohioans lacked health insurance coverage, compared to 6.5 percent in 2016.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates







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Is Cleveland Shrinking or Growing in Population?
By Emily Muttillo, Applied Research Fellow & Kate Warren, Research Associate
September 14, 2017

In a previous blog, the CCS Research team identified some trends we would be looking for in the U.S. Census Bureau data released today.  The big day is here – let’s take a look! 

 4. Did Cleveland stop losing people?
Estimates of Cleveland’s population have declined each year since 2010. Meanwhile, community development projects are bringing residents back into the city.  Has it been enough to halt the negative population growth? The data will tell.





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Poverty Numbers in Cleveland – It’s Complicated
By Emily Campbell
Associate Director and Williamson Family Fellow for Applied Research
September 14, 2017

The research team of the Center for Community Solutions has been waiting all year to see if the improvements in poverty rate in Cleveland would continue. With today’s 2016 data release from the U.S. Census Bureau, the answer is… probably not.


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New Census Data Show Income Increased, and 
Poverty and Uninsured Declined in 2016
By Joseph Ahern
Fellow, Applied Research
September 12, 2017

Newly released reports from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) show that median household income increased in the United States between 2015 and 2016, and the poverty rate and the percent of people without health insurance declined in the same period.

Median household income nationally in 2016 was $59,039, an increase from 2015 of 3.2 percent after adjusting for inflation. The median income of married-couple families increased by 1.6 percent to $87,057, and that of female-headed families increased by 7.2 percent to $41,027. Although most racial and ethnic groups saw increases, disparities persisted, with households headed by non-Hispanic Whites making $65,041, as compared to $39,490 for African Americans and $47,675 for people with Hispanic/Latino ethnicity.  Among full-time year-round workers, women earned a median of $41,554 compared to $51,640 for men. However, the female-to-male earnings ratio of 0.805 represented its first annual increase since 2007.




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New Data Next Week! What Community Solutions Will Look For

By Emily Campbell
Associate Director, Williamson Family Fellow for Applied Research
September 6, 2017

Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau releases an updated set of data about housing, income, employment, family structure, and health insurance coverage.  The 2016 Current Population Survey and 2016 American Community Survey one-year estimates are both scheduled for release the week of September 11. We, at The Center for Community Solutions, are anxiously awaiting these releases and are ready to quickly and accurately analyze the data. Below are some things we will examine.

1. Will the improving poverty trend continue? 
Last year, poverty in the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and in communities across the state dropped, in some places by statistically significant amounts. In Cleveland, child poverty in particular dropped from an estimate of 58.5 percent in 2014, to 49.9 percent in 2015. If poverty holds steady or continues to decline, it’s a good indication that the prospects of low-income Ohioans have truly improved. But it is possible that the large declines shown last year were somewhat of a data anomaly. Our research staff each have a different appraisal of what will happen – will poverty continue to fall, go back up, or hold steady, and will any change be statistically significant?





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Bi-partisan State Representative Discussion Draws Largest HSAN Audience to Date
By William Tarter, Jr.
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
August 30, 2017

On Friday, August 25, 2017, approximately 50 people attended the third meeting in 2017 of the Human Services Advocacy Network (HSAN). The meeting was held at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, and featured State Representatives Sarah LaTourette and Emilia Strong Sykes. The meeting afforded the Representatives the opportunity to reflect on recent health-related legislative issues in the just-passed state budget, including the proposed Medicaid expansion freeze and the legislative vetoes, as well as increases in spending on community health issues such as the opioid epidemic. Representatives LaTourette and Sykes then transitioned to important issues that they hope to address between now and the end of the legislative term next year.

Representative LaTourette talked about the Multi-System Youth policy recommendations, which were developed with feedback from The Center for Community Solutions. The policy proposal seeks to assist and support children in the welfare system who are at-risk and need of comprehensive support, instead of being passed along from one agency to another. Additionally, Representative LaTourette spoke of her interest in palliative care, a type of medical care for those with serious illness, which treats the symptoms to increase comfort and may be used along with treatment of the illness.  Representative LaTourette specifically cited her own interaction with palliative care, where she saw the positive impact of palliative care for her late father, former Congressman Steve LaTourette, as he battled cancer.  Her interest includes the creation of a palliative care advisory board that would advise ways for the state to better educate the public on palliative care issues, as well as promote better understanding of palliative care referrals when made by a physician to patients and their families.




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The Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty
By Brie Lusheck
Public Policy Associate
August 25, 2017

The Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty (STFEP) was announced in March in addition to four other committees on topics ranging from the opiate crisis to energy policy. The common goal of the various tasks forces is to better understand the subject each committee is charged with and to make policy recommendations to the House as its session resumes in the 132nd General Assembly.   

The STFEP will focus on an improved understanding of the achievement gap as it relates to education and poverty by focusing on state data and proven outcomes that work to assist in minimizing the gap. This goal will be accomplished by exploring both practical and proven approaches that have worked around the country and have shown significant educational outcomes.



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Senate Veto Overrides:
Implications for Ohio’s Medicaid Program 

Loren Anthes 
Fellow, Center for Medicaid Policy
August 23, 2017 

CONTEXT
On Tuesday, August 22, the Senate voted to override six of Governor Kasich’s Medicaid-related vetoes. In July, the House had overridden 11 of the governor’s vetoes, 10 of which dealt with Medicaid, meaning that the Senate can still act on four of those Medicaid-related provisions pushed forward by the House. Several of the veto overrides included provisions that would affect eligibility, rates, and the carve-in of certain Medicaid populations into managed care.






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Four Compelling Facts (and One Excellent Report)

Emily Campbell
Associate Director and Williamson Family Fellow for Applied Research
August 2, 2017

United Way of Greater Cleveland recently unveiled its community assessment. With the help of The Center for Community Solutions, United Way staff examined a host of data on education, income, health, and basic needs. The resulting report represents an excellent collection of indicators of community conditions in Greater Cleveland. United Way found new ways to put the raw numbers into perspective. Of all the information shared during the report release event, there are four facts which stand out.

  1. While unemployment has fallen in the past several years, the unemployment rate for Cleveland residents remains higher than that in the rest of the county. United Way pointed out that the number of Cleveland residents who are unemployed is greater than the entire population of the City of Solon.

  2. The gap between median income in Cleveland and median income in Cuyahoga County is more than $16,000. That is enough to afford mortgage payments on a $90,000 house.

  3. Based on data from AAA, an older adult living at the poverty line would have to spend more than 75 percent of their income in order to own and maintain a car. 

  4. People with mental illness are no more likely to commit a violent crime than those without mental illness. But, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, they are ten times more likely to be the victim of violent crime.      

The full report provides many more insights into the challenges facing our community. It also explains how United Way will respond, while showing opportunities to improve health, social, and economic conditions.

 
JMOC Hears Testimony from ODM, ODMHAS, and Behavioral Health Providers as Redesign Implementation is Delayed
By Adam White
Graduate Assistant
June 29, 2017  

After over two years of preparing to carve new behavioral health benefits into Medicaid managed care plans and recode all Medicaid behavioral health services to align with national coding standards, the Ohio Departments of Medicaid (ODM) and Mental Health and Addiction Services (ODMHAS) had announced they were ready to go live with the Behavioral Health Redesign starting on July 1, 2017. The agencies filed rules implementing the changes with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) earlier this spring after the Common Sense Initiative Office ruled the rules would not have an adverse impact on business. However, after hearing from numerous small providers that were unprepared to go forward with the new system on July 1, the Ohio House of Representatives inserted a provision in the budget bill (H.B. 49) that would prohibit the new system from going live until January 1, 2018, and further delay the carve-in of alcohol, drug addiction, and other mental health services into Medicaid managed care until July 1, 2018. Correspondingly, JCARR requested that the administration place its proposed rules in “To Be Refiled” status to allow for further review.

On Thursday, June 22, the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) of the Ohio General Assembly heard testimony regarding the status of the Behavioral Health Redesign from ODM Director Barbara Sears, ODMHAS Director Tracy Plouck, and representatives from various behavioral health providers. Directors Sears and Plouck testified that the administration is respectful of the budget deliberation process and that the agencies will not refile rules affecting community mental health providers nor propose an effective date for the rules until the budget process has concluded. However, Director Sears affirmed that the hospitals are prepared to move forward with the coding changes and make the new services available as soon as possible. Therefore, ODM has refiled a rule to increase access to services for children and multi-system youth with an effective date of August 1, 2017. Director Sears noted that ODM is able to accommodate these new services sooner because the billing methodology for hospitals in the Medicaid claims system is separate from the coding changes relating to community providers.



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Cuyahoga County HHSA Committee Approves Contracts Aimed at Reducing Teen Pregnancy
By William Tarter, Jr. 
Policy Planning Associate & Community Advocacy
June 27, 2017

On June 21, 2017, the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Service and Aging Committee approved a contract extension request from the Cuyahoga County Family and Children First Council for ongoing programming aimed at reducing teen pregnancy. The contracts, with Beech Brook and Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio for $10,000 and $20,000, respectively, will be extended through the end of 2017. 

The contracts are funded by Cuyahoga County Health and Human Service Levy dollars. Beech Brook and Planned Parenthood will work together with local school district students that have high teen pregnancy rates compared to county and U.S. rates — including Cleveland, South Euclid-Lyndhurst, and Bedford, among others (see teen births mapped by district, below). The students participating in the education seminars are sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth graders, who will continue to be involved in teen health awareness campaigns and have increased access to health services, among other program offerings.  The resolution discussed was an amended version, as the Law Department sought a technical change to move it forward because of a conflict with Section 501 of Cuyahoga County Code, related to Contracts and Purchasing Procedures. 


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How Senate-Passed Version of State Budget Alters House HOPES Plan to Address the Opioid Crisis
By Adam White
Graduate Assistant
June 23, 2017 

When the Ohio House of Representatives passed its version of the state budget (H.B. 49) in early May, the bill featured a $170.6 million investment toward combatting Ohio’s opioid crisis through a plan titled Ohio HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education, and Safety). The House’s HOPES plan targeted funding toward four broad areas: $9 million for workforce development, $12.2 million for prevention, $19.4 million for mental health, and $130 million for treatment and child services. In a previous blog post, The Center for Community Solutions broke down the allocations to specific programs within each of the four HOPES focus areas.

Having passed the Ohio Senate on Wednesday, June 21, H.B. 49 now includes nearly $180 million, depending on how it is counted, in funding for combatting substance abuse. However, a close examination of the details of the Senate-passed funding package shows significant changes were made to the House’s HOPES plan to reach this higher total. Among these changes were the funding reductions and elimination of numerous House proposals, greater utilization of federal funds, and the shifting of funding from the General Revenue Fund (GRF) to dedicated purpose funds (DPFs), drawing from the Local Government Fund (LGF) to cover some of the costs. The Senate also added several new proposals of its own.



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