Poverty & Safety Net

A first look at health and human services in Governor Mike DeWine's budget

March 18, 2019
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Gov. Mike DeWine introduces first state budget, proclaiming “For too long, we’ve tinkered at the margins”

Last Friday, Governor Mike DeWine introduced the details of his first state budget, after previewing several initiatives during the first half of March. Overall, the 2020-2021 budget is framed as an investment in Ohio’s future. DeWine stated that “for too long, we’ve tinkered at the margins” and stated his administration is dedicated to making significant investments in programs and systems where improved outcomes may take years to achieve. While there will be many analyses on various parts of the state budget, The Center for Community Solutions has decided to highlight a few things from the health and human services sections. We’ll all be learning more details once state agency directors start testifying next week before the General Assembly’s House Finance committee. Stay tuned for more state budget content and for more information on how decisions by the DeWine administration and General Assembly may affect Ohioans.

 This budget proposes to “fully fund” Ohio Benefits

Addressing Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in Ohio

Immediately after taking office, DeWine appointed the RecoveryOhio Council to advise him and his administration “on matters of concern regarding mental illness and substance use prevention, treatment and recovery support services in Ohio.” The recommendations from RecoveryOhio were the basis of many of the provisions in the state budget that address mental health and substance use disorders. Some of these proposals include:

  • Expanding the Ohio START (Sobriety, Treatment and Reducing Trauma) program which will help communities target resources to at-risk families dealing with substance use disorders
  • Increasing treatment capacity through an investment of more than $56 million, with $22 million to local Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Boards
  • New public awareness education campaigns to help reduce stigma associated with mental health and substance use disorders
  • Targeted funding for schools to help kids who’ve experienced trauma
  • Increasing funding for specialized courts, like drug courts, in order to add at least 30 specialized courts in the state

Health and Human Services Infrastructure

With the full launch of the Ohio Benefits system in 2018, a major issue for Ohioans, and for state and local governments, has been access to enroll in safety net programs. This budget proposes to “fully fund” Ohio Benefits, Ohio’s integrated eligibility system. More details will be revealed as additional budget documentation is developed, but this is an area that Community Solutions has closely monitored, to ensure everyone who is eligible for benefits can access services and programs.

 DeWine stated his administration is dedicated to making significant investments in programs and systems where improved outcomes may take years to achieve


Medicaid expansion is supported in the 2020-2021 budget which will enable hundreds of thousands of Ohioans to have continued access to health coverage. What remains to be seen is what impact the recently approved Medicaid waiver, which will implement work requirements, will have on the number of people covered, local job and family services offices, and the overall cost to state and local governments. Medicaid expansion is the backbone to many of the initiatives proposed in this budget, especially as it relates to addressing mental health and substance use disorders and reducing the state’s infant and maternal mortality rates.

Infant Mortality

Funding for Ohio’s Help Me Grow home visiting program, through the Ohio Department of Health, is more than doubled in the proposed budget, from $20 million per year to more than $40 million in 2020 and to nearly $50 million in 2021. The governor’s advisory council on home visitation proposed recommendations earlier this month, many of which will be reflected in programming supported by this increased funding.

Older Adults

In the proposed budget, funding for Senior Community Services will increase by more than $1 million from $6.9 million in 2019 to $8.15 million in 2020 and declining slightly to $8.14 million in 2021. These funds help provide services to seniors living in communities, services like home-delivered and congregate meals, and support and preventive services to help seniors live independently for as long as possible.

Coming Soon

Community Solutions will continue to closely track the state budget process. Soon we will delve further into each area of the budget related to health and human services.

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