2011 in the Rearview, 2012 Ahead
This has been a year of change in the Ohio General Assembly and under the first year of Governor Kasich’s administration. For Ohio’s elderly and frail in particular, many of the changes came under Ohio’s new Office of Health Transformation (OHT) and the new biennial budget. Following his election in November, 2010, Governor Kasich quickly established OHT “to modernize the fragmented system of Medicaid in Ohio, to improve the quality of health services available to consumers and families and provide the best value to taxpayers.” As such, OHT took the lead in shepherding the Ohio’s biennial state budget deliberations.
2011 will be remembered for cuts made at the state and federal level to Medicaid, Medicare and subsidized housing. With a continuing sluggish economy, both levels of government made dramatic cuts to rein in spending and attempt to re-shape delivery of senior services to more home- and community-based models versus facility-based care, even though per diem funding for HCBS programs was cut along with overall Medicaid reimbursement.
Faces in the Statehouse are changing too. In just the past few months, several legislators have announced they will not be returning for the second half of the 129th General Assembly, or will not be running for another term:
- Rep. John Carey (R-Wellston) has left for the position of assistant to the president for government relations and strategic initiatives at Shawnee State University. Carey, a staple of the General Assembly since 1995, has had stints in both the House and Senate and is the only legislator to have chaired both the House and Senate finance committees.
- Rep. Nancy Garland (D-New Albany) announced that she would not seek reelection to the Ohio House in the 2012 election. Garland’s House district was divided into several other districts during the reapportionment process that happens every ten years with the federal census. She was the sponsor of the MOLST bill in the last session.
- Sen. Jason Wilson (D-Columbiana) was appointed by Gov. Kasich in November as the new director of his Office of Appalachia. He is the ninth senator to leave the Ohio Senate this year.
- Rep. Todd McKenney (R-Akron) resigned his House seat in November in advance of his appointment by Gov. John Kasich to be a Summit County probate judge.
- Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview Heights) will not run for another term in the Ohio House after his district was combined with Rep. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus), and instead has entered the Democratic primary for a new Columbus Congressional district.
- The House will see at least two more vacancies soon, with two members running unopposed for mayor in their hometowns. Rep. Richard Hollington (R-Chagrin Falls) is running for mayor of Hunting Valley and Rep. Tim DeGeeter (D-Parma) is running for mayor of Parma.
Departures in the Statehouse have made the way for several additions to the General Assembly:
- Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) joined the Senate as its newest member, leaving his House seat to fill Sen. Jason Wilson’s vacancy.
- Tony DeVitis (R-Green) replaces former Rep. Todd McKenney (R-Akron), who was appointed to the Summit County Probate Court.
- John Eklund (R-Chardon), an attorney, was selected from a field of 13 applicants to replace Sen. Tim Grendell (R-Chesterland), who recently was appointed a judge in Geauga County.
- Jack Cera (D-Steubenville) was chosen to replace Rep. Lou Gentile in the 95th House District.
2012 looks to be an equally exciting year. There will be a “mid biennial review” of the state budget, which provides Midwest Care Alliance more opportunities to advocate for outcomes that best serve its home, hospice, and palliative care members. In addition, it is shaping up to be a captivating election year. Not only will voters determine the U.S. presidency, every seat in the currently Republican-controlled Ohio House of Representatives is up for grabs. Click here for a preliminary list of 2012 House and Senate candidates.
Finally, to help educate members on Midwest Care Alliance’s advocacy efforts, and how to become more involved in advocacy, Midwest Care Alliance is planning Regional Advocacy Forums in conjunction with LeadingAge Ohio throughout the state next year. In order to make certain no voice is lost in the public policy debate, particularly the voice of our members and the consumers they serve, Midwest Care Alliance needs your help; stay tuned for more information and we hope to see you at one of these events. Contact Katie Rogers, Director of Public Policy, at krogers@LAOandMCA.org or (614) 545-9032 with any advocacy, election or policy related issues.
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