State Reps. Thomas E. West (D-Canton) and Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) today unveiled House Bill 469, which will cut out-of-pocket prescription costs for patients.


Patients with chronic, complex conditions such as multiple sclerosis and hemophilia rely on copay assistance programs through organizations like drug manufacturers, charities, and churches to help cover the costs of their prescription drugs. Recently, many major health insurance providers have implemented discriminatory policies that no longer allow payments made through these copay assistance programs to count toward a patient’s deductible.


Patients whose health insurance providers use these copay accumulator policies are often blindsided by the discriminatory policies and end up owing thousands of dollars because of unmet deductibles. Additionally, insurers get paid twice for the same medications, meaning they pocket the assistance payment from a manufacturer or church, as well as any copays from the patient during the deductible phase.


House Bill 469 protects patients and reduces their out-of-pocket prescription drug costs by prohibiting these discriminatory policies and allowing aid from copay assistance programs to count toward a patient’s deductible.


“The rising cost of prescription drugs is one of the greatest challenges we currently face. House Bill 469 is a critical step towards reversing that trend by ending these unfair practices and ensuring greater access to the lifesaving drugs Ohioans desperately need,” said West.


“These policies discriminate against patients with chronic conditions, as well as those who need innovative prescription drugs for which no generics typically exist,” said Manchester. “House Bill 469 fights to cut out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for our families.”


House Bill 469 will have a lasting effect on patients with rare diseases, saving them thousands of dollars on prescription costs.


“As legislators, we must step up and restore our promise of better, healthier lives for all of our constituents, particularly those who bear the burden of rare diseases every day,” said West.


“Similar legislation has been passed in West Virginia, Virginia, Illinois and Arizona,” said Manchester. “It’s time we add Ohio to that list.”

 
 
  
 
Dem Lawmakers Urge House Leaders To Not Hurt Public Schools
Call for caution follows recent outcry from teachers, parents and constituents regarding GOP-proposed EdChoice reforms
January 16, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS—House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D- Akron) and Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon), who serves as the Ranking Member on the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee, issued statements today concerning the need for immediate action as a first step to fixing the state’s broken EdChoice voucher program in advance of the February 1 application period and the requested improvements House Democrats would like to see made to safeguard fair access and fair funding for our schools.


“House Democrats support our public schools and the hard-working teachers and students that make our communities proud,” Leader Sykes said. “Our caucus has shown a continued commitment to the belief that education is the great equalizer in the pursuit for the American Dream and that is why we are apprehensive about some of the ideas that are being proposed as a solution for the voucher program that could create greater inequality in Ohio’s schools. I urge my colleagues in the Majority to listen to the concerns of our public school teachers, administrators and parents and to not penalize local communities in this important endeavor to fix a broken voucher system.”


Rep. Phil Robinson agrees we need to protect our public schools.


“The intent of the EdChoice program is a noble one – for lower-income and working class families to be able to afford education alternatives in struggling school districts. But as we have seen, the original intent has been corrupted with a broken Ohio State Report Card system and an unconstitutional funding system that disadvantages students in rural, urban and suburban districts and exacerbates inequality among all Ohio districts,” Rep. Robinson said. “This problem cannot be fixed entirely overnight, but we do need to move quickly to make immediate, short-term improvements before February 1.”


House Democrats realize this is a complicated issue but believe there is a simple, immediate fix:



  • Restrict EdChoice vouchers for A, B and the vast majority of C letter grade schools;

  • Ensure income eligibility for the vouchers is appropriate;

  • Family eligibility must be based on a one-year minimum in an Ohio public school;

  • When determining voucher eligibility, school data no further back than three years should be considered;

  • Do not take any more money away from our already financially-strained public schools and reimburse those districts that took a hard hit in FY2019 due to the broken voucher system.


Rep. Robinson lives in the thriving community of Solon, consistently a top-rated school district in Ohio and the nation. In an earlier statement, he pointed out just how broken the voucher system had become when a school in the Solon district recently qualified for EdChoice.


Lawmakers are not scheduled to return from the holiday break for committee meetings until the week of January 21 which presents a problem with the application period for the EdChoice voucher program beginning February 1.


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Reps. West, Russo Raise Concerns About Medicaid Work Requirements To Department Director
Say implementation should be delayed until improvements are made to state's IT system for benefits
January 16, 2020
 
 

State Reps. Thomas West (D-Canton) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) sent a letter to Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) Director Maureen Corcoran today expressing their concerns with the implementation of Medicaid work requirements. The lawmakers’ letter comes in light of a year-end report sent by Director Corcoran to Gov. Mike DeWine detailing a variety of issues the department has dealt with over the past year, including chronic problems with the information technology system “Ohio Benefits,” utilized by both ODM and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to determine benefit eligibility.


“Given the state of the Ohio Benefits system, it would be irresponsible to take on the additional administrative burden that implementing work requirements for Medicaid would bring. We must ensure that additional eligible Ohioans do not lose their Medicaid coverage,” said West.


“I appreciate the transparency of the Administration, but we do not yet have any details on the plan to resolve these disturbing problems before the roll-out of the Medicaid work requirements,” said Russo. “At the end of the day, this is about improving the lives and well-being of vulnerable Ohioans and children. That begins by making sure our current eligibility system works the way it should, as opposed to further burdening a dysfunctional process with more red tape and administrative costs.”


Corcoran’s report identified nearly 1,100 defects that the Ohio Benefits system currently faces, which in turn have necessitated the creation of 1,765 “workarounds” to remedy these defects. Moreover, the report noted that these defects have also caused privacy issues for over 700 Medicaid members, another startling revelation with serious implications. In these and many other ways, the problems with Ohio Benefits have adversely affected Medicaid recipients and have required Medicaid staff members to spend hundreds of hours rectifying them, according to the report.

 

Related Content

 
 
  
 
Rep. Miller Announces $225,000 For Sheffield Lake Trail
Says new trail to increase connectivity for area residents
January 14, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS— State Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) announced today that the City of Sheffield Lake, Ohio has been awarded a $225,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Clean Ohio Trails Fund to construct Lincoln Trail.


“Lincoln Trail is a significant step towards increasing connectivity in our region,” said Rep. Miller. “This generous state grant will create new opportunities for residents to stay active and enjoy the outdoors.”


The grant’s purpose is to create a nearly mile-long path that links Lorain County Metro Parks’ Sheffield Reservation to Lake Road. Additionally, the Clean Ohio Trail Funds will help design, engineer, and construct the path. The city will also contribute funding to complete the project.


The Clean Ohio Trails Fund is part of the ODNR’s Clean Ohio Fund, which aims to support, improve, and link the state’s natural and urban places. Over the years, the Fund has offered 14 rounds of grants to improve local hiking, biking, and walking trails around the state.


Sheffield Lake is one of 20 grant recipients during this round of funding.


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Rep. Robinson Announces House Bill 4 Signed Into Law
Says his first bill is a victory for expanding workforce development and supporting local businesses
January 14, 2020
 
 

 COLUMBUS—State Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon) today announced Gov. Mike DeWine’s signing of House Bill (HB) 4, his bipartisan bill with state Rep. Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville) to help streamline the process of developing industry-recognized credential and certificate programs. This is both Rep. Robinson’s first bill as a legislator, and his first to become law.


“In Northeast Ohio alone, there are more than 3,000 high paying trade and technical jobs currently available but unfulfilled. We need to connect businesses with hard working Ohioans and training programs for these middle-class pathway jobs in order to fulfill the Ohio promise of a better life,” said Rep. Robinson. “HB 4 will help expand workforce training and certification development options for people looking for the American dream to make a better life for themselves and their children’s future.”


HB 4 will set up the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT) as the “one-stop-shop,” potential first point of contact and resource for employers and companies to:



  • Be connected to existing certificate or credential programs,

  • Vet proposals and obtain guidance on how to work with schools and state education agencies to develop programs,

  • Help make the process quick and efficient.


An example could include a tech company is moving to the state and they want to have employees trained in specific computer coding or a new program. Or a car company is creating a new electric or autonomous vehicle and need employees trained in special manufacturing and development methods.


“I’m thankful for the House’s leadership in prioritizing this bill,” said Rep. Robinson. “I am looking forward to seeing many Ohioans take advantage of these new opportunities.”

 
 
  
 
Rep. Lightbody Introduces Bill To Curb Distracted Driving
Says bill makes Ohio roads safer for drivers, families
January 14, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS—State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) today introduced legislation to increase safety on Ohio roadways by making it a primary offense to use handheld electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle.


“The number of drivers I see using their smartphones while driving continues to concern me, especially as they tend to drive erratically. This legislation will address the significant danger caused by drivers who drive under the influence of their electronic devices,” said Rep. Lightbody,


Lightbody was approached more than a year ago by a constituent, Sharon Montgomery of Gahanna, Ohio, whose life was changed when she was in a tragic car accident caused by a distracted driver.


Montgomery has become an expert on the issue, and served on Governor DeWine’s recent Task Force on Distracted Driving. She worked with Lightbody’s office to help develop the legislation.


“More and more drivers are focused on electronic devices instead of traffic and vehicle operation, which puts us all at risk,” said Montgomery. “Representative Lightbody’s legislation will reduce that risk, and I am relieved that with her leadership, Ohio would join 37 other states that filed bills to make their roads safer by outlawing handheld devices.”


According to the Ohio Distracted Driving Task Force, 58 people were killed, 493 were seriously injured and over 7,000 were injured in nearly 14,000 distracted driving accidents in 2017. However, the task force also states that distracted driving is underreported because it is difficult to prove unless an officer sees it or the driver admits to it.


Within the City of Columbus, distracted driving is already a primary offense, which allows law enforcement to cite drivers when they are engaging in potentially dangerous usage.  Law enforcement officers across Ohio have found distracted driving to be an increasing problem that affects everyone on the road, including drivers and pedestrians.  Drivers are engaging in not only texting, but watching videos and scrolling through social media while behind the wheel. 


I work for the people in my communities, as well as all the citizens of Ohio and they deserve to feel safe in their homes and on the roads,” Rep. Lightbody said.


The bill has not yet been assigned to a House committee, where it would be eligible for public hearings.


 


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State Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson)’s bipartisan bill with Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) will be signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine on Monday, January 27 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The legislation, which will grant licensing reciprocity for active-duty military families, started in the legislature as House Bill 133 before being consolidated into Senate Bill 7 at the end of 2019.


“It’s an honor knowing that this legislation will be among the first twenty bills of the 133rd General Assembly signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine,” said Weinstein. “I am proud that the first bill I introduced will have an immeasurable impact on active-duty families throughout Ohio.”


A study conducted by the Department of Defense in 2017 found that 25 percent of military-spouses were unemployed, a rate seven times higher than the national average, despite having higher rates of educational attainment. In addition to alleviating a key economic stressor on military families, licensing reciprocity will help bring in-demand professionals—including nurses and teachers—to Ohio, keep top talent in the military for longer and maintain national military readiness.


“It’s a real closing of the circle for me,” Rep. Weinstein added. “It was Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that brought me and my wife, Amanda, to Ohio after graduating from the United States Air Force Academy, and I’m humbled to know the signing of this legislation will help many of the service members stationed there today.”

 
 
  
 
Rep. Lepore-Hagan Announces TechCred Legislation Signed Into Law
Says House Bill 2 invests in Ohio's workers
January 13, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS- State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today announced Gov. Mike DeWine’s signing of House Bill (HB) 2, bipartisan legislation that expands job training and workforce development opportunities in Ohio.


“By investing in job training, we are investing in Ohio’s future,” said Lepore-Hagan. “Connecting workers with training and credentials program allows them to succeed in a constantly changing global economy.”


HB 2 creates the TechCred and Individual Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP). Depending on the microcredential, employers can receive up to$2,000 reimbursements for training costs for both incumbent and prospective employees for the TechCred program. Training providers may seek up to $3,000 reimbursement for educating individuals in IMAP, with a focus on helping low-income, underemployed or unemployed individuals.


“With the passage of this bill, we are restoring Ohio’s promise of better lives, better jobs and brighter futures for all by ensuring workers have the tools they need to get ahead,” said Lepore-Hagan. “I’m thankful for the House’s leadership in prioritizing this bill and looking forward to seeing many Ohioans take advantage of these new opportunities.”


 


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Rep. Hicks-Hudson Announces Job Training Bill Signed Into Law
Says TechCred bill to invest in Ohio workers
January 13, 2020
 
 

State Representative Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) today announced Gov. Mike DeWine’s signing of House Bill (HB) 2, bipartisan legislation that expands job training and workforce development opportunities in Ohio.


“The signing of this bill better connects working people to good paying jobs that can sustain a family,” said Hicks-Hudson. “This is another example of our efforts to restore the Ohio Promise—to work together to give working people and families the tools they need to live the American Dream right here at home.”


HB 2 creates the TechCred and Individual Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP). Depending on the microcredential, employers can receive up to $2,000 reimbursements for training costs for both incumbent and prospective employees for the TechCred program.  Training providers may seek up to $3,000 reimbursement for educating individuals in IMAP, with a focus on helping low-income, underemployed or unemployed individuals.

 
 
  
 
Rep. Sweeney Introduces Automated Voter Registration Bill To Modernize Ohio Elections For A New Decade
Legislation could add 1 Million Eligible Ohio Voters to the Rolls
January 13, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS—State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today introduced legislation to create Automated Voter Registration in Ohio. The bill has the potential to add 1 million eligible Ohio voters to the rolls. Rep. Sweeney worked on the bill as part of a bipartisan working group including Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Senator Nathan Manning and Senator Vernon Sykes.


“It’s a new decade and Ohio is overdue for this common-sense modern reform,” said Rep. Sweeney. “Ohio’s voter purge has hurt the state’s reputation on the national stage by kicking eligible voters off the rolls. Automated Voter Registration will help repair our reputation and our voter rolls making them more accurate and secure with greater efficiency and at a lower cost to taxpayers. This is a policy that has garnered bipartisan support in the country and here in Ohio and I am confident we can get it done.”


The bill would automate voter registration for citizens who interact with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or attend high school in the state. Citizens will be registered to vote or have their name or address updated unless they decline the registration or update. The bill requires the secretary of state to study the readiness of other state agencies – such as Jobs and Family Services, Veterans Affairs, Medicaid, Taxation, and those providing disability services – and authorizes the secretary to add new agencies to the automated system.


Currently, under the federal “Motor Voter” law, citizens must be offered voter registration simultaneously with their BMV transaction through an opt-in process. And under current state law, high schools are official voter registration agencies with an opt-in process. The bill would automate voter registration by making it an “opt-out” rather than “opt-in” system. Ohioans who choose to opt out would not be registered to vote. Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia have adopted an automated voter registration system.


 


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Featured Posts

Rep. West Announces Bipartisan Legislation To Reduce Out-of-Pocket Prescription Costs

 

State Reps. Thomas E. West (D-Canton) and Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) today unveiled House Bill 469, which will cut out-of-pocket prescription costs for patients.



 
 

Reps. West, Russo Raise Concerns About Medicaid Work Requirements To Department Director

 

State Reps. Thomas West (D-Canton) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) sent a letter to Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) Director Maureen Corcoran today expressing their concerns with the implementation of Medicaid work requirements. The lawmakers’ letter comes in light of a year-end report sent by Director Corcoran to Gov. Mike DeWine detailing a variety of issues the department has dealt with over the past year, including chronic problems with the information technology system “Ohio Benefits,” utilized by both ODM and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to determine benefit eligibility.



 
 

Rep. Hicks-Hudson Announces Job Training Bill Signed Into Law

 

State Representative Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) today announced Gov. Mike DeWine’s signing of House Bill (HB) 2, bipartisan legislation that expands job training and workforce development opportunities in Ohio. 



 
 

Dem Lawmakers Urge House Leaders To Pass Bill To Protect Healthcare Coverage For Ohioans With Pre-existing Conditions

 

State Reps. Jeff Crossman (D- Parma) and Randi Clites (D-Ravenna) today called on Statehouse leaders to protect Ohioans’ healthcare by advancing the bipartisan Pre-Existing Protection Act, House Bill 390. The call comes hours after a decision in Texas v. United States raised more uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) future, including its provision to protect healthcare access for those with pre-existing conditions.