Ohio policy

HPIO fact sheet explores drivers of maternal health disparities, spotlights what works to address them

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released a new fact sheet titled “Racial and geographic disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality.”

The fact sheet includes an analysis of the drivers of maternal morbidity and mortality in Ohio and descriptions of what works to reduce disparities.

“With collaboration from both public and private partners, it is possible to reduce severe maternal morbidity and mortality and improve health outcomes for Ohio mothers,” according to the fact sheet. “Policymakers and other stakeholders can implement evidence-based strategies to ensure that parents and babies in Ohio are healthy and thriving.”


400k Ohioans may lose Medicaid benefits this summer, report estimates

Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans may lose Medicaid coverage this summer when the federal government's COVID-19 emergency declaration ends, according to a new national report (Source: “More than 400,000 Ohioans at risk of losing Medicaid coverage this summer as COVID emergency ends,” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 19).

Around 3.3 million Ohioans were enrolled in Medicaid this fiscal year as of February, an increase from around 2.8 million from 2020. Under the declaration, Ohio and other states were unable to take people off Medicaid, even if they become ineligible. A new Commonwealth Fund report estimates that as many as 400,000 Ohioans could lose their coverage at the conclusion of the public health emergency.

Last week, HPIO released a new fact sheet, “Ohio Medicaid Basics Update: Trends in Enrollment and Expenditures During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which details enrollment and spending trends in Ohio Medicaid due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HPIO is also hosting a free online forum May 3, titled “What’s on the Horizon for Ohio’s Medicaid Program? Innovation, Equity and Unwinding the Public Health Emergency.”


DeWine announces funding for housing assistance program aimed at improving birth outcomes

Gov. Mike DeWine announced this week that $2.5 million is going to the Coalition of Homelessness and Housing in Ohio “to help improve birth outcomes and reduce infant mortality by providing stable housing for low-income families” (Source: “Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announces $2.5 million for program to help pregnant women, improve birth outcomes,” WKYC-TV (Cleveland), April 6).
 
Gov. DeWine’s office said the Housing Assistance to Improve Birth and Child Outcomes Program will assess the impact of rental assistance on factors that contribute to infant mortality. The project aims to increase housing stability of low-income households with children while improving maternal and infant health outcomes.
 
The program is an expansion of Healthy Beginnings at Home (HBAH), a housing stabilization pilot project designed to improve maternal and infant health outcomes for low-income families that launched in 2017 with funding from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. That program, which provided 49 pregnant women in Columbus with rental assistance and other services, was implemented by CelebrateOne, a Columbus-based infant mortality prevention collaborative.
 
CelebrateOne contracted with HPIO to complete a final report summarizing the outcome and process evaluation results of HBAH. 


Ohio Medicaid announces care management organizations for OhioRISE program

The Ohio Department of Medicaid announced this week the 20 organizations that would launch OhioRISE, a new Medicaid program for children with severe behavioral and mental problems (Source: “Parents have given up custody to get care for children with severe needs. Ohio Medicaid is closer to ending that,” Columbus Dispatch, Feb. 17).

OhioRISE, short for Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence, is scheduled to roll out in July with the goal of addressing situations where parents are at risk of giving up custody of their children to the state in order to get the required, unaffordable mental health and residential care needed by a child with severe behavioral and mental health problems. 

Aetna will be the health insurance company overseeing the program, which the department expects to cover up to 60,000 children by the end of the first year. The organizations, called care management entities, will be responsible for coordinating care for a child: Bringing together schools, behavioral health providers, juvenile services and other systems to provide help for complex needs. 

The $1 billion program is partly paid for by savings from other planned Medicaid reforms, such as centralized credentialing and billing systems. Around $19.5 million will be given to the entities to help them start up.


Ohio Senate President won’t bring cannabis legalization bill to the floor

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said this week that he doesn't support an effort to legalize cannabis and won't bring it to a vote in his chamber (Source: “Proposal to legalize marijuana in Ohio faces yet another roadblock in Senate GOP leader,” Columbus Dispatch, Feb. 9).

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol recently submitted enough valid signatures for Ohio lawmakers to consider its proposal, which would allow Ohioans age 21 and older to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates. They could also grow up to six plants individually and no more than 12 in a household with multiple adults.

If lawmakers don't pass the bill or pass an amended version within the next four months, supporters can collect another 132,887 valid signatures to put their measure on the ballot. "I don't want anybody to misunderstand my position," Huffman said. "I'm not going to bring it to the Senate floor. And if that means people want to go put it on the ballot, have at it."

Gov. Mike DeWine already said he would veto a bill to legalize marijuana in Ohio, calling the idea "a mistake." 

HPIO recently released a fact sheet examining lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol control policies that could inform future cannabis regulation in Ohio.


ODH to divert COVID tests from libraries to schools

The Ohio Dept. of Health says it will divert incoming rapid COVID test kits to K-12 schools, colleges and universities (Source: “Ohio changes priorities for distribution of COVID tests from libraries to schools,” Statehouse News Bureau, Jan. 12).

The state's health department says it had previously ordered 1.2 million antigen tests to be distributed free of charge through libraries and health departments in the month of January but, so far, only 400,000 of those have been distributed. ODH says shipments of the remaining 800,000 proctored test kits have been put on hold by the manufacturer as demand for them has increased nationwide. ODH expects to receive shipments later this month but says when they arrive, they will be given to schools, not libraries and health departments.

ODH says once schools have what they need, the state will once again send test kits to libraries and health departments.


ODH Director warns that COVID cases in Ohio are ‘very serious situation’

State health director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff again pleaded with Ohioans to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as cases and hospitalizations spike across the country (Source: “Ohio facing 'very serious situation' as COVID cases skyrocket, state's top doctor says,” Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 16).

According to the state COVID-19 dashboard, Ohio has reported more than 10,000 cases per day for the past three days. On Friday, Ohio also reported 395 new hospitalizations and 434 deaths.

The increase in cases has pushed hospitalizations near record-highs with 4,723 Ohioans with COVID hospitalized as of Thursday, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.

The 1,177 COVID-positive patients in Ohio's intensive care units are also approaching a pandemic record high, Vanderhoff said. Around 22% of COVID patients in an ICU are under the age of 50 and 13% are under the age of 40, Vanderhoff said.

"Simply put we're in a very serious situation but we have a powerful tool in vaccination that can strengthen our protection against severe cases of COVID-19," he said.


Ohio Senate passes bill expanding medical cannabis

The Ohio Senate passed a bill this week that would expand medical cannabis conditions to migraines, autism spectrum disorder, opioid use disorder and any condition that could “reasonably be expected to be relieved” from the drug (Source: “Ohio Senate passes bill expanding medical marijuana to any patient whose symptoms ‘may reasonably be expected to be relieved’ by drug,” Cleveland.com, Dec. 15).

Senate Bill 261 passed 26 to 5. It now heads to the Ohio House.

In addition to broadly expanding medical conditions, the bill would change other aspects of the Ohio medical marijuana program. The bill would expand the forms of medical marijuana that can be legally sold to include pills, capsules and suppositories, oral pouches, oral strips, oral or topical sprays, salves and inhalers. Smoking marijuana would still be prohibited but vaping would continue to be allowed.

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio recently released a brief, Alcohol, Tobacco and Health: Implications for Future Cannabis Policy, that lays the groundwork for future cannabis policy discussions by applying lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol policy to upcoming decisions about recreational cannabis legalization.


HPIO policy brief series explores tobacco, alcohol and implications for future cannabis policy

 

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released a series of briefs that explore the health impacts of tobacco and excessive alcohol use, and apply lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol policy to upcoming decisions about recreational cannabis legalization.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Health: Implications for Future Cannabis Policy lays the groundwork for future cannabis policy discussions by:

  • Highlighting what works to reduce tobacco and excessive alcohol use
  • Describing recent and upcoming tobacco, alcohol and cannabis policy changes
  • Applying lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol to inform equitable and effective cannabis regulation in the future

“Now is the time to set clear policy goals on legal drugs. Evidence-based approaches to cannabis, tobacco and alcohol policy are needed to improve health, decrease disparities and control healthcare spending,” the brief states.

The two other briefs in the series, Health Impacts of Tobacco Use in Ohio and Health Impacts of Excessive Alcohol Use in Ohio explore:

  • How each substance affects health and healthcare spending
  • Recent trends and disparities
  • What works to reduce harms

New HPIO brief explores intersection between criminal justice, health and race

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released a new brief titled, Connections between Criminal Justice and Health: Insights on Justice and Race.

According to the brief, “The two-way relationship between criminal justice and health is influenced by racism and other forms of discrimination, which can drive poor outcomes in both sectors.”

Building on HPIO's Connections between Criminal Justice and Health policy brief released in June, this brief highlights the many ways that racism impacts criminal justice outcomes, finding that:

  • Disparities in the criminal justice system are not inevitable, and although unjust biases, policies and structures exist, improvement is possible.
  • Ohioans of color experience barriers to justice stemming from a long history of racism in the criminal justice system that casts a shadow over modern policymaking.
  • Public and private stakeholders can take meaningful action to eliminate racism in the criminal justice system and improve health, safety and well-being for every Ohioan.