Advocating for safe children, stable families, and supportive communities
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Columbus, OH 43215 — 614-224-5802

Biennial budget gives and takes away

Biennial budget gives and takes away

Governor John Kasich signed the SFY 2016-17 budget on June 30 after issuing 44 vetoes. PCSAO is very pleased a Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth will be created as a result of the biennial budget. As noted in a related article, PCSAO is hopeful that this committee can identify solutions to custody relinquishment – so stay tuned for more information.

The second success achieved in the final budget was behavioral health language that PCSAO, the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies (OACCA), and The Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers worked very hard to secure with key legislative champions. The language specifies that the transition of behavioral health services from Medicaid fee-for-service to managed care must occur no later than Jan. 1, 2018. The language also states that between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2018, the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) has the authority to oversee the implementation of this significant system transition. The language specifies that JMOC shall review any proposal by the Department of Medicaid including proposed timelines for including the service, any issues related to Medicaid recipients’ access to service, adequacy of the network of providers of the services, and payment levels for the service. This is a significant win for children and families, especially those in child protection.

The Administration has stated that the transition of children in child protection from fee-for-service to managed care for physical health services will occur by Jan. 1, 2017. PCSAO will work closely with the Administration as we move into planning for this transition. In fact, the PCSAO Behavioral Health Summit on Oct. 21 at the PCSAO annual conference will be focusing on this significant transition. More information will be available soon regarding the summit.

PCSAO is pleased with these wins in the budget but remains disappointed over the lack of concern for and focus on support of Ohio’s child protection system – in fact, on children overall in the budget. We believe we need to develop champions for children, especially those impacted by abuse and neglect. PCSAO issued a news release at the conclusion of the budget that called for new leadership for our most vulnerable population, abused and neglected children. In a biennial budget that spends hundreds of millions of dollars on corporate tax breaks, special projects and the rainy day fund, public children services agencies (PCSAs) lose $17 million. This new loss is in addition to the $53.5 million PCSAs have lost since 2009. This will become our main focus – garnering champions for children – as we move forward.

PCSAO must take this opportunity to recognize those who were champions for children in this budget. First, we would like to thank our county PCSAs, private child-caring agencies, and advocacy partners such as Advocates for Ohio’s Future, OACCA, and The Ohio Council that participated in our calls to action, hosted legislative visits, testified, and worked with the media to get our story out there. We also want to acknowledge and thank our sister associations again – the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association, the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency Directors’ Association, and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio – for all their support, assistance, and advocacy on our budget priorities. Finally, it is also imperative that we recognize the legislative champions who strongly supported PCSAO budget priorities: Senators Obhof, Gardner, Oelslager, Coley, Burke, Jones, Lehner, Manning, Bacon, Seitz, Skindell, Tavares and Cafaro; Speaker Pro Tempore Amstutz; and Representatives Smith, Sprague, Schuring, Driehaus, Antonio, Sykes and Boyce, along with their amazing staff members.

We look forward to continuing to work with them through the Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth and on the transition of children into managed care. We look forward to working with everyone on creating new leaders and champions for children. As Senator Gardner often states, “It is never too late to do the right thing.”