Ohio policy

HPIO releases latest Health Value Dashboard


The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released the latest edition of its biennial Health Value Dashboardwhich found that Ohio ranks 44 on heath value compared to other states and D.C. (as displayed in the graphic above).

That means that Ohioans are living less healthy lives and spending more on health care than people in most other states.

The Dashboard is designed for policymakers and other public- and private-sector leaders to examine Ohio’s performance relative to other states, track change over time and identify and explore health disparities and inequities in Ohio. The report also highlights evidence-informed strategies that can be implemented to improve Ohio’s performance.

With more than 100 data metrics, the report can be a valuable tool as Ohio’s leaders continue to develop the state’s biennial budget over the next two months.

In the fifth edition of the Dashboard, HPIO identified three specific areas of strengths on which Ohio can build to create opportunities for improved health value in the state:

  • Strengthen Ohio’s workforce: Ohio can build upon recent success in attracting employers in high-growth industries to strengthen the workforce and reduce poverty
  • Foster mental well-being: Ohio can build upon expertise with, and community response to, the addiction crisis to become a national leader in behavioral health
  • Improve healthcare effectiveness: Ohio can build upon strengths in access to care to reinvigorate approaches to improving outcomes and controlling healthcare spending

Enrollment set to begin for new Ohio Medicaid managed care plans

Medicaid enrollees in Ohio can begin selecting from among a new slate of managed care plans beginning next week (Source: “Ohio Medicaid managed care plan enrollment begins Tuesday,” Associated Press, Feb. 28).

As part of the Ohio Medicaid Next Generation initiative, millions of enrollees in the program must choose from seven managed care plans or be assigned one.

The approved plans are: Buckeye Community Health Plan, CareSource, Molina Healthcare, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, AmeriHealth Caritas, Humana and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Next Generation is scheduled to go live July 1.

Officials say air quality returns to normal following East Palestine train derailment

In the week since officials conducted what they called a "controlled release" of vinyl chloride from five derailed train cars in East Palestine near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, concern has grown among some over the quality of the air in and around the village of nearly 5,000 people (Source: “Is the air in East Palestine safe to breathe? Here's what experts and officials say,” Columbus Dispatch, Feb. 14).

Some East Palestine residents who have since returned to their homes after being evacuated have reported experiencing headaches and nausea. Others say the air has a foul odor to it.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, said during a news conference Tuesday that most of the chemicals on the Norfolk Southern train that derailed Feb. 3 are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are emitted during everyday activities like pumping gas, burning wood or natural gas, he said.

Low levels of VOCs can be smelled and sometimes cause headaches and irritation, said Vanderhoff, who noted that most people can be around VOCs at low levels without feeling ill. High levels can result in longer-term health effects, he said.

Vanderhoff said recent testing shows the air in East Palestine was just like it was prior to the train derailment.

Last month, HPIO released a new Health Value Dashboard fact sheet titled “A closer look at outdoor air pollution and health.” The fact sheet focuses on the importance of clean air and provides additional information on the outdoor air quality metric in the Dashboard.

Opioid settlement dollars could come to Ohio communities by fall

Funding from the OneOhio National Opioid Settlement could begin to come to local communities this fall, but policy delays could impede funding until 2024 (Source: “Target date set for opioid dollars,” Youngstown Vindicator, Feb. 13).

OneOhio Recovery, a private nonprofit, was created out of the National Opioid Settlement. It is tasked with distributing 55% of the money Ohio will receive from the pharmaceutical industry as a result of its role in the national opioid epidemic.

“This is the chance of a lifetime for Ohio. We have to do a good job,” said interim executive director of the Foundation, Kathryn Whittington.

Much of the structure and processes still are being decided by the 29-member board governing the foundation. The foundation was created in December 2021, but most board appointments were not finalized until May 2022.

According to a timeline provided to the members before their meeting Feb. 8, if a grant policy is approved in April, then funds should be distributed for regional projects and statewide initiatives in October. If the policy does not pass by April, funds may not go out until 2024.

DeWine vetoes law prohibiting local tobacco bans

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed legislation Thursday that would’ve preempted local bans on flavored tobacco (Source: “Ohio Gov. DeWine vetoes tobacco measure that would prohibit local bans,” Ohio Capital Journal, Jan. 6).

“This measure is not — is not in the public interest,” DeWine said of HB 513.

Because a new General Assembly has begun, DeWine’s office contends lawmakers can’t initiate a veto override.

Speaking Thursday, DeWine acknowledged the merit of uniform statewide policy. “The easiest way to do that, it seems to me, is to have a statewide ban of flavored cigarettes and flavored vaping,” DeWine said.

State health director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff noted Ohio’s rates of tobacco use are higher than national averages, and tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of death in the state. According to Vanderhoff, deaths attributable to tobacco use top 20,000 a year. And treating tobacco-related illness isn’t cheap. According to the Health Policy Institute of Ohio, he said, health care costs tied to cigarettes are about $6.8 billion a year.

DeWine announces plans to prioritize mental health services in second term

Gov. Mike DeWine, who just won his bid for re-election, said he’s going to focus on improving the physical and mental well-being of Ohioans in his second term in office (Source: “DeWine's plans for improving mental health services in Ohio includes paid internships,” Statehouse News Bureau, Nov. 30).

At an Ohio Chamber of Commerce event focusing on health care Wednesday morning, DeWine said his office is working with lawmakers in three key areas during his second term.

“One, growing our behavioral health force so it is the most robust in this country. Two, leading the nation in mental health research and innovation. And three, providing Ohioans with the best access to behavioral health care in this country," DeWine said.

DeWine wants the state to invest more in high school workforce programs and he wants to invest $85 million dollars in federal funds to pay students for internships and residencies for those who are studying to work in these areas at Ohio's universities.

DeWine said he wants the state to do a landmark study on mental health barriers. That information can then be used to come up with ways to break those barriers down. He also said he wants to build a statewide center of innovation for behavioral health along with increasing research capacity for Ohio’s universities. DeWine said these changes would make mental and behavioral health services more accessible for Ohioans.

Ohio bill aims to boost mental health workforce

As the demand for mental health services grows — and with many psychologists aging and near retirement — Ohio lawmakers are sponsoring a bill aimed at increasing the number of mental health care providers (Source: “Ohio lawmakers propose a new way to increase the number of mental health providers,” Statehouse News Bureau, Oct. 13).

State Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) said her bill would create more access to mental health professionals by allowing colleges to offer specialized master's degrees.

"It creates a new licensed professional in the state of Ohio who has the ability to prescribe and work under the supervision of a medical professional and just creates greater access for individuals in need of mental health services," Gavarone said.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness in Ohio estimates one in five people experience mental illness each year. Many times, people who need help for a mental health problem cannot get in to see a provider because there aren’t enough of them. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services shows between 2013 and 2019, there was a 353% increase in demand for mental health services.

Gavarone said she doesn’t expect this bill to be taken up before the end of this year but added she wants lawmakers to start considering the proposal soon.

Firearms most common method of suicide in Ohio, HPIO analysis finds


Firearms are the most common method of suicide in Ohio, according to analysis from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio (as illustrated in the graphic above).

Between 2007 and 2021 (the most-recent year in which data is available), the rate of suicide deaths in Ohio that involved a firearm increased by more than 50%. In 2021, suicides involving a firearm accounted for more deaths than all other means combined.

Suicide is preventable and the state’s 2020-2022 Suicide Prevention Plan include evidence-informed strategies that both public- and private-sector leaders can implement to address the issue.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, please call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. If you don’t like talking on the phone, consider using the Crisis Text Line at www.crisistextline.org or text “4HOPE” to 741-741.

HPIO brief explores impact of pretrial incarceration, money bail system on health, safety and well-being of Ohioans

HPIO has released a new policy brief that explores the impact of pretrial incarceration and the money bail system on the health, safety and well-being of Ohioans and their communities. It is the latest in a series of HPIO publications on the connections between criminal justice and health.

The brief, Pretrial Incarceration and the Bail System, includes state and local policy options to reform the money bail system, including options for courts, local governments, prosecutors and the state legislature.

Analysis from 2019 found the number of Ohioans incarcerated pretrial has increased since 2016, and 61% of people in local jails have not been convicted of a crime (outlined in graphic above).

HPIO will be hosting a free 30-minute webinar on the findings in the brief from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29. To register, visit: www.hpio.net/criminal-justice-and-health
Downloadable graphics and key data points from the publication, which can be used in presentations and reports, are available on HPIO’s Criminal Justice and Health Facts & Figures page.

This brief was financially assisted by the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

State report details $733 million in spending on substance abuse efforts

Tax dollars are funding more than $733 million in substance abuse education, prevention and treatment in Ohio, according to a report from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office (Source: “Ohio spending $733M on substance abuse and recovery efforts,” Mahoning Matters, Sept. 6).

The Recovery Ohio 2021 Annual Review details spending on at least 47 projects related to education, workforce development, prevention, treatment, data and technology, harm reduction and public safety.

Accidental drug overdoses have been the leading cause of death in Ohio since 2007, according to the Ohio Department of Health. In 2020, 5,017 people died of overdoses in the state, a 25% increase over the previous year. 

Most of Recovery Ohio funding in 2021, $695 million, was spent on prevention programs and resources for school children.