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Weekly Advocacy Update - 6/09/2008

A Weekly Update of Important Government and Legislative Issues

Weekly Advocacy Report - 6/16/2008
A Weekly Update of Important Government and Legislative Issues 





The Ohio Hospital Association released its annual statewide community benefit report for Ohio hospitals Monday. The 174 community hospitals that participated in the report, Caring Today for a Healthy Tomorrow, provided at least $1.8 billion in community benefit in 2006, the most recent year for which data is available. The report includes Ohio's hospitals' aggregate $867.9 million in charity care, $649.8 million in Medicaid losses, and $899.3 million in community activities, including immunization programs, health screenings, medical research and education costs, disaster relief, support for community programs, and more.


The population of Ohio's elderly with serious disabilities will grow about one percent annually for the next several years, but the cost of caring for them will grow much faster, according to gerontology researchers who testified Wednesday before the Joint Committee on Medicaid Technology and Reform.


Ohio offers few protections to consumers when it comes to health care coverage, according to healthcare consumer advocates. A news conference was held Thursday by the Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage (OCHC) to unveil a 2008 study published by Families USA, a national health care consumer organization, which revealed Ohio received a "failing grade." More than 1.3 million Ohioans are uninsured and without the help of public health coverage like Medicare/Medicaid programs for those who qualify, Ohio would see about 2 million more uninsured individuals, they said.



The office of Attorney General Nancy Rogers requested exact figures for a proposed settlement of Cindy Stankowski and Vanessa Stout's sexual harassment case against the state as subordinates of former Attorney General Marc Dann. Counsel for the two, who are still employed by the AG's office, contacted Rogers this week about a monetary settlement, citing the "extreme distress" they suffered under Dann and several top appointees. Rogers' office asked Columbus attorney Rex Elliott to put some specifics to his demand for "substantial compensation."



State Auditor Mary Taylor raised questions about nearly $7.5 million in state spending - the vast majority within the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services - in her 2007 audit of state finances, released Thursday. The audit contains a total of 53 findings across the 10 state agencies, with 34 in ODJFS alone.


The audit management letter accompanying the audit notes that some of the internal control concerns raised in the audit will be addressed once HB166, which reforms internal auditing, is fully implemented.




Gov. Ted Strickland endorsed Treasurer Richard Cordray for Attorney General this week. Cordray would give Democrats a candidate with statewide name recognition who would remain treasurer should he lose the election. If he wins, Strickland would be able to appoint a replacement treasurer to serve out the remainder of Cordray's term.



According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the composite index of leading indicators for Ohio decreased 0.1 percent to 96.0 in March. The indicator is suggesting slow employment growth this summer. Initial claims for unemployment insurance were up from last month and were up from one year ago. The valuation for housing permits increased seasonally, but was lower than one year ago. The average workweek of production workers in manufacturing increased and was up from one year ago.



Sens. George Voinovich, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's Subcommittee on Clean Air, and Sherrod Brown joined with the Senate Republican leadership in blocking landmark climate change legislation from moving to a final vote on Friday. The Climate Security Act (S. 3036), otherwise known as the Lieberman-Warner climate bill,  would have established a "cap and trade" program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through market measures while promoting economic growth. Voinovich believes his vote helped save hundreds of thousands of Ohio jobs and protected Ohio seniors and families from sky-rocketing natural gas, electricity and gasoline costs.






Gov. Ted Strickland held to his promise Thursday and removed limits on embryonic stell cell research - specifically, "therapeutic" cloning - in economic stimulus bill HB554 (Hottinger), adding several additional line item vetoes. The $1.57 billion stimulus package invests in "job-creating" industries and in Ohio communities, infrastructure and workforce to stimulate employment and long-term economic growth. Strickland wielded his veto power over three provisions: 1) language that limits research on "potentially life-saving" stem cell research; 2) the date (July 1, 2008) associated with the transfer of $200 million in budget stabilization funds to a local transportation fund for public works projects; and 3) the name "Choose Ohio First Co-op/Internship Program," which has been changed to "Ohio Co-op/Internship Program" to avoid confusion with the existing Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program in the STEM disciplines.




State higher education officials signed an agreement Wednesday to join the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), a national program that allows the public to review information on each university's performance on a range of measures as compared to schools across the country. The agreement was signed by Ohio's 13 public universities and one freestanding medical school.


The latest Ohio Poll released Monday by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati, shows Gov. Ted Strickland maintaining high approval ratings overall at 61 percent, and 51 percent on economic issues. The Ohio Poll partly mirrors the results of a Quinnipiac University poll released last week that showed Strickland with a 55 percent approval rating and found 65 percent of those polled saying the state's economy has deteriorated during his term. The telephone poll of 1,340 state residents was conducted from May 16 through June 4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent.



Reps. Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) and Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon), two contenders for the Democratic House leader's position in the 128th General Assembly, have agreed to work together. Budish and Szollosi are the top money-raisers for the caucus and have agreed that Budish would be the leader starting in 2009 and Szollosi would serve in the No. 2 position. Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview Heights) said he still wants the top leadership spot next year, however, and is not ready to concede. He said he believes it will be decided after the election. Reps. Matt Dolan (R-Novelty) and William Batchelder (R-Medina) are vying for the Republican leadership position.




A hearing on whether Gov. Ted Strickland and the General Assembly had the right to strip the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation of its funding wrapped up after three days of testimony this week, and a decision could come by the end of the month. The foundation is suing to stop state leaders for removing its funding, arguing in court that it had already entered a contract to send the money to a Washington, D.C.-based prevention program when legislators voted to strip the endowment. Attorneys for the state said the foundation illegally met to make that decision. Franklin County Judge David Fais has set a deadline of June 27 to file written arguments, and expects to issue a decision soon after.




State Treasurer Richard Cordray, 49, was flanked by his wife, son and daughter on the Statehouse steps Wednesday as he received the endorsement of Ohio's Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher as Democratic nominee for Ohio attorney general in the coming election.

2008 -- Provided by The Hannah Report - A Publication of Rotunda, Inc. & Hannah News Service




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