Last week, Gov. Mike DeWine released his proposed two-year budget for the State of Ohio. Gov. DeWine’s proposal aims to make the health of Ohioans a top priority of the state and, as a result, it includes a number of line items that will impact the health care industry, including funding related to public health equity, nursing homes, priority health programs, support services for substance use disorders and mental health, student wellness, and Medicaid.
Public Health Equity
In an effort to improve access to care in the State, Gov. DeWine’s proposal provides a $50 million one-time investment in public health equity initiatives, including the following:
- $6 million for local health departments to implement the findings and recommendations of Ohio’s 2020-2022 State Health Improvement Plan and to incentivize efficiencies, including shared services or the consolidation of local health districts that formally merge on or after July 1, 2021.
- $3.25 million for emergency department diversion and harm reduction efforts, including funding for a comprehensive system of care for patients presenting in emergency departments with addiction and initiatives to reduce accidental drug overdoses.
- $2.25 million for housing of pregnant mothers.
- $1 million for the Department of Developmental Disabilities to invest in projects that increase technology access for individuals with developmental disabilities.
- $25 million for a technology solution to align data systems and records and streamline data to improve disease reporting and healthcare delivery across Ohio.
The pandemic has highlighted certain inadequacies in the nursing home industry, and the Governor’s proposed Ohio budget hopes to further regulate the industry and improve care by:
- Investing $50 million in a reform initiative that will encourage nursing home facilities to voluntarily downsize, move to single patient rooms, and otherwise remove unused beds from the system, which Medicaid is required to cover a portion of expenses for.
- Authorizing the Ohio Department of Health to immediately remove patients and relocate them when the Department determines the health and safety of the patients are at risk.
- Investing $5 million for nursing home training, including training on infection control and elder abuse.
- Investing $440 million into quality outcome incentives for Medicaid nursing home services.
Priority Health Program Investments in Ohio Budget Proposal
Gov. DeWine’s proposed Ohio budget will invest in priority health care programs by, among other things:
- Investing $41.2 million in Help Me Grow, a voluntary home-visiting program for at-risk, expectant mothers, and families of young children at or below the 200% of the federal poverty level.
- Investing in lead hazard control and abatement services.
- Providing medical, dental, behavioral health, advanced practice nursing and physician assistant students with clinical rotations in Federally Qualified Health Centers that are recognized as Patient Centered Medical Homes.
Support Services for Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health
In order to curb the state’s substance use disorder crisis and support the mental health of Ohioans, Gov. DeWine’s proposed budget will:
- Increase screening, provide early intervention and connect people to treatment.
- Fund programs that tackle the disproportionate negative impact on minority, poor and underserved populations.
- Expand access to the Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program.
- Expand the number of specialized dockets focused on mental health, substance abuse and trauma care support services.
- Invest $11 million to increase collaboration among health care, behavioral health, human services, homeless services and criminal justice systems for people with mental illness.
- Expand access to substance use disorder treatment in correctional facilities.
Gov. DeWine’s budget allocates $1.1 billion for Student Wellness and Success programs, which partners schools and community organizations to create programs that support the social and emotional needs of K-12 students.
Proposed Ohio Budget and Medicaid
The proposed Ohio budget invests $28.4 billion for Fiscal Year 2022 and $29.7 billion for Fiscal Year 2023 in Ohio’s Medicaid program. This investment includes the following:
- A voluntary Medicaid work program for as long as the federal government prohibits Ohio’s Medicaid work requirement.
- Support for the re-procurement of Ohio’s managed care system.
- Expansion of Medicaid’s Emergency Telehealth program, including by easing technology restrictions on patient-physician interactions, reducing prior authorization requirements, enhancing pharmacy benefits and enabling nursing home and congregate care members to access telehealth service with no prior authorization.
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