The Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty:
Mentorships and Early Childhood Programs Providing Pathways out of Poverty
By: Adam White, Graduate Assistant 
Brie Lusheck, Public Policy Associate
October 31, 2017


The Speaker’s Task Force on Education and Poverty concluded its sixth hearing on October 26, 2017. The task force heard testimony from subject matter experts Susan Zelman, executive director of the Ohio Department of Education, and former State Senator Shannon Jones, who now serves as the executive director of Groundwork Ohio.

Zelman, who previously served 10 years as the state superintendent of public instruction, testified on the successes of the Ohio Community Connectors program. Signed into law in 2014, Community Connectors is a grant program designed to bring community, business, and religious organizations together with parents to support students in school districts with high proportions of disadvantaged students and high dropout rates. The program encourages students to examine future prospects through mentorship opportunities. According to Zelman’s testimony, students with mentors have better attitudes toward school and a greater appreciation for learning new things. They are 52 percent less likely to miss a day of school than their peers without mentors, and 55 percent more likely to enroll in college.

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Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee: Behavioral Health Redesign Beta Testing

By Loren Anthes
Public Policy Fellow, Center for Medicaid Policy 

October 23, 2017

On October 19, the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) met to continue the conversation regarding the progress of Ohio’s Behavioral Health Redesign. In the presentation offered by the state before next week’s commencement of beta testing for claims, the state outlined metrics they have will be using to document their progress including number of patients covered by sign-ups, number of providers enrolled, number of successfully submitted claims (varied by plan), credentialing of providers, and contracted entities. This data is being tracked by the state and was offered to the committee via example screenshots of the Ohio Medicaid and Mental Health & Addiction Departments’ dashboard that can also break down each of these data points by county and zip code. It’s also worthwhile to point out that 37 hospitals have indicated they will start submitting claims for outpatient behavioral health, 13 are already doing so. Previously, law required the majority of these services to be delivered on the community level, so this represents a new layer of capacity for the delivery system that had not previously existed.

The majority of questions from JMOC members centered on the readiness of the state to implement the new system of claims submission. While Ohio Revised Code outlined the expectations of beta testing to the administration, the threshold of what constitutes a “clean claim” (i.e. a claim submitted without any problems) was not defined as a percentage of total testing or the associated scenarios through which that testing is taking place. Senators Tavares and Burke built upon this observation, noting that the future carve-in of these benefits into managed care represents a complicating factor in determining the level of success of claims processing as the system moves away from direct governmental billing in fee for service.

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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 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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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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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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Managed Long-Term Services and Supports Second Workgroup Meeting: What’s to Come?
By Brie Lusheck
Public Policy Associate
June 1, 2017 

On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, the Department of Medicaid, with the assistance of the Department of Aging, convened a workgroup meeting for the implementation of the Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) program.

The meeting was the second time the workgroup convened and was used to update stakeholders on the current endeavors in preparation of the program’s rollout. Both departments highlighted their continued commitment to working with stakeholders during the rollout of the MLTSS program, emphasizing their belief that MLTSS will be helpful in improving the quality of life for the individuals the program serves.  Stakeholders were given nearly half of the meeting to ask questions on implementation and the rollout.

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Ohio General Assembly Considering Implementing 
Multi-System Youth Recommendations 

Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, MSW
Youth and Family Advocate, Medicaid Consultant for Children, The Center for Community Solutions, Policy Fellow, The Voinovich School, Ohio University
May 23, 2017

MULTI-SYSTEM YOUTH (MSY) refers to a child or youth with significant mental health, addiction and/or developmental delays who is involved or at risk of being involved with child protection and/or juvenile justice due to not being able to access the right services or supports to remain stable and in their own home.  Multi-system youth have complex needs that cannot be met by a single system. In some cases, two or more systems are used to fill gaps in services offered single agencies or when the cost of providing services becomes prohibitive for a single agency.

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Governor’s DODD Budget Includes Investments in Waiver Spending and Rate Increases
By Rose Frech 
Guest Author
March 6, 2017

Governor Kasich’s recently released executive budget includes several noteworthy adjustments to funding within the state’s developmental disabilities system. Touted as an extension of the state’s “historic” investments of the previous budget cycle, the proposal includes increased funding on several important initiatives.[i] However, the budget includes some notable cuts as well. Overall, the budget proposes a small increase in overall spending; a 5 percent increase for FY 2018 and an additional 4 percent increase into FY 2019.[ii] The combination of cuts and investments is likely to draw a mixture of support and criticism. While some will likely laud the governor’s commitment to sustained funding in an otherwise tight budget cycle, others may find fault in what they perceive as an ongoing underinvestment in needed community-based services and supports.

The budget proposal includes $122 million in new spending, which includes both state and federal contributions, primarily focused on efforts to expand community living options for individuals with developmental disabilities. This comes in the form of funding for approximately 1,300 new home-and-community based service (HCBS) waivers, which allow individuals to waive their right to institutional care in favor of receiving services in a home or community-based setting. These waivers are aimed at both continuing to assist individuals living in institutions who may want to leave, and addressing the state’s lengthy waiting list to access waiver services. State funding for waivers created during the past budget cycle will remain, however due to excessive demand, thousands will continue to wait.

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State Budget Update:
Departments of Health, Mental Health and Addiction Services Testify before HHS Subcommittee

By Adam White
Graduate Assistant
March 3, 2017 

The House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services heard testimony Thursday (March 2, 2017) morning from the directors of the Ohio departments of Health (ODH) and Mental Health and Addiction Services (ODMHAS) as it convened for its fourth hearing of H.B. 49, the executive budget proposal for fiscal years 2018-2019.

ODH Testimony

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Overdose Deaths Continue to Climb in Ohio for All Drug Categories
By:  Lori Criss, Associate Director, Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers
(This is a guest blog; please note that the author’s opinions are not necessarily those of The Center for Community Solutions.)
December 21, 2016

The Ohio Department of Health released the 2015 Ohio Drug Overdose Data in August. The data clearly show an increase in deaths from heroin and fentanyl at unprecedented rates. The administration highlighted the progress that is being made from policies and practices implemented in the past four years, namely the reduction in prescription opioids dispensed with 81 million fewer doses dispensed to Ohio patients in 2015 when compared to 2011. Ohio has also increased the use of the overdose reversal drug naloxone with nearly 20,000 doses administered by Ohio EMS in 2015. Without a doubt, policy efforts over the past five years are making an impact, but the sad truth is that in looking back to 2003, unintentional overdose deaths have increased in all categories.

Reports tout that the percentage of prescription opioid related deaths compared to all unintentional overdose deaths declined for the fourth year in a row. That sounds good until looking closer and realizing that the number of people dying from prescription opioid overdose isn’t in meaningful decline (only five fewer people died in 2015 than in 2014), but the total number of people overdosing is increasing--almost 200 percent in the past decade and 21 percent in the past year, an increase of over 500 people from 2014 to 2015.

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Prevention in Ohio:
Examining Ohio’s Efforts to Curb the State’s Drug Epidemic through Prevention Education
By Brie Lusheck, Public Policy Associate

Adam White, Graduate Assistant
October 20, 2016

In August, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office announced[1] the formation of a study committee to examine drug use prevention education in Ohio schools.

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What Happened to General Assistance in Ohio?
By Rose Frech, 

Former Research Fellow
August 12, 2016

This year, we will reflect on a major milestone in social welfare history known as welfare reform. Enacted in 1996, TANF, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, provides minimal cash assistance for very poor families with children, and funds other programs and services that aim to promote self-sufficiency. TANF replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) as the major cash assistance program for poor families in the country, and much has been written about the fallout that has occurred since (including our recent study on the current reach of cash benefits in Ohio). Many anti-poverty advocates concur that, over time, the implementation of TANF has resulted in the erosion of the safety net for poor children and families. But what about a safety net for those without children?  As we reflect on 20 years since welfare reform, it’s worth brushing off the dust on another now long-defunct safety net program—General Assistance.

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County Profiles: What’s New, and What Can We Learn?
Kate Warren, Policy & Planning Associate 
July 8, 2016

This week, we’re pleased to introduce updated county profile factsheets. Our hope is that you’ll find them to be a useful resource for better understanding the needs in your community and advocating for programs and policies that can improve health and social conditions around the state. The factsheets focus on data related to health and human services around the state, and are available for each of Ohio’s 88 counties here.

What’s New This Year?

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JMOC: Paying for Value
Loren Anthes, Fellow, Center for Medicaid Policy
June 28, 2016

The Governor’s Office of Health Transformation (OHT) has made the transition to value-based payment its main focus since it was created in the beginning of the Kasich Administration. Now, before the budgetary swan song for this governor, many of the seeds planted in those early stages are starting to bear fruit and OHT is ramping up its Medicaid work in value. This was not only the subject of recent presentations on Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) and episodic based payments by OHT, but was also the subject of the most recent Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC).

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DODD Scorecard Suggests Progress on Budget Initiatives has been Slow
Rose Frech, Research Fellow
May 5, 2016

The Ohio Department of Development Disabilities (DODD) recently released updated data highlighting progress on several key initiatives, including expanding home-and-community based service (HCBS) waiver enrollment and increasing access to community employment. These initiatives were developed as a result of the last biennial budget, which included a $300 million investment in DODD services, mostly aimed at increasing access to community living for individuals with developmental disabilities.  Overall, the new data scorecard suggests that progress has been slow over the first three quarters of the year, and much headway will be necessary to achieve the goals outlined during the budget process.

HCBS Waivers

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State Releases Request for Grant Applications for Healthier Buckeye Grant Pilot Program, Due May 3, 2016
Tara Britton, Fellow
April 12, 2016

The state Healthier Buckeye Advisory Council was created in the 2014 Mid-Biennium Review and was tasked with helping to establish local Healthier Buckeye Councils at the county level. The aim of local Healthier Buckeye Councils is to encourage collaboration at the community level between businesses, social services, health care providers, service recipients, schools, Medicaid managed-care organizations, faith-based organizations, and other stakeholders to yield streamlined processes and infrastructure that can assist low-income families in moving up and out of poverty. Local councils will coordinate public assistance programs and any additional services that people need. County commissioners (or multiple counties’ commissioners for multi-county councils) must designate an existing entity or create an entity to serve as the Healthier Buckeye Council.

Last year’s state budget included funding for the Healthier Buckeye Grant Program (HBGP) at $11.5 million over the biennium. The HBGP funding is distributed through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) and will be awarded to local Healthier Buckeye Councils.  On March 3, ODJFS released the request for grant applications (RFGA) for the Healthier Buckeye Grant Pilot Program. The maximum grant amount per program a local Healthier Buckeye Council may apply for and be awarded is $750,000 (the maximum grant award for project applications submitted by two or more local councils in collaboration is $1,500,000). Ultimately, the amounts of the award depend on the total amount of state funding available and the number of applicants who are awarded grants.

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Extreme Poverty in Ohio: 
How Many People in Ohio Live on Less than $2.00 Per Day?

By Joseph Ahern
Research Fellow

Updated April 6, 2016

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The Social Services Block Grant is under attack. What does this mean for Ohio?
By Rose Frech, Research Fellow
March 18, 2016

The House Ways and Means Committee announced last week that Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is sponsoring legislation that would end the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), a $1.7 billion dollar grant allocated to states to fund numerous critical social service programs. And on Wednesday, this bill was one of several that passed through the Committee, in an effort to create budget savings. The other two pieces of legislation that the Committee passed include changing the refundable child tax credit to require a Social Security number, and a bill that would require those who receive overpayments of ACA exchange subsidies to repay them.

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