by German Lopez
Governor, legislature criticized by pro-choice group
Here they go again. Republicans are renewing their
anti-abortion agenda in Ohio. Two of the governor’s October appointments
have been criticized by a pro-choice group, and the state legislature
is now considering a new version of the heartbeat bill.
Yesterday, Senate President Tom Niehaus told The Cincinnati Enquirer that the Ohio legislature, in cooperation with anti-abortion groups, is giving another look at the heartbeat bill.
When the heartbeat bill was first suggested, many on the left labeled
it the most radical anti-abortion bill in the country. If it became law,
the bill would have banned abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is
detected, which is typically visible in ultrasounds by the sixth week of
pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the
Legislators and anti-abortion groups aren’t offering
specifics on the new bill. Ohio Right to Life opposed the heartbeat bill
when it was first suggested because the group believed it was too likely to fail in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld
abortion rights in Roe v. Wade in 1973. The new version of the heartbeat bill will likely be retooled to sustain any court challenges.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice
Ohio, says Republicans haven’t taken the right lessons from the Nov. 6
election: “It’s clear that they didn’t get the memo. Pro-choice Ohioans
overwhelmingly voted to re-elect President Obama and reject this war on
women. Here we are, we haven’t even made it to the weekend, and our
senate president is resuming attacks on women’s reproductive health
care.” She added, “I think they didn’t care what Ohio women thought
before the election, and it’s clear they don’t care now either.”
In response to questions about whether the governor will
support a new heartbeat bill, Rob Nichols, spokesperson for Republican
Gov. John Kasich, said in an email, “We are watching the Senate’s
A few appointments from Kasich have also come under
scrutiny. On Oct. 12, Kasich appointed Marshall Pitchford, a board
member at Ohio Right to Life, to a committee in charge of filling a
vacancy in the Ohio Supreme Court. On Oct. 29, Kasich appointed Mike
Gonidakis, Ohio Right to Life president, to serve a five-year term on
the State Medical Board of Ohio, which is in charge of the state’s
In a statement, Copeland criticized the appointment to the
Supreme Court committee: “Because legislation promoted by Ohio Right to
Life is likely to come before the Ohio Supreme Court, it is
inappropriate for Pitchford to be placed in a position where he can
cherry-pick a justice to serve on that court.”
She also criticized the appointment of Gonidakis to the
State Medical Board. Copeland says she’s “concerned” that he’s on the
board to regulate and restrict access to abortions. “No group in the
state of Ohio has done more to interfere with the private medical
decisions of Ohio women,” she says. “For their leader to now be on the
State Medical Board is completely inappropriate and disturbing.”
She added that the two appointments show Kasich is “playing a more active role in the war on women than Ohioans realize.”
According to Gonidakis’ biography on the Ohio Right to Life website, Gonidakis went to school for law at the University of Akron. No professional medical experience is noted.
Nichols said in an email the appointments should come as
no surprise: “The governor believes strongly in the sanctity of human
life, so it's a surprise that someone would be surprised that he
practices what he preaches.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Issues 50 and 51 are levy renewals, so
there’s no tax hike, and mental health and senior services stay the
same. These are levies that even fiscal conservatives have not opposed.
The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) has taken
no position on it.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
The final presidential debate between President Barack
Obama and Mitt Romney was last night. The general consensus from media
pundits is Obama won by a substantial margin. But political scientists
say debates typically have negligible electoral impact. In aggregate
polling, Obama is up in Ohio by 1.9 points and Romney is up nationally
by 0.6 points. Ohio is looking like a must-win state for both campaigns,
so Obama’s advantage there is a very bad sign for Romney.
FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times’ election forecast blog, has an explanation of how and why the current electoral landscape favors Obama.
In a follow-up to the debate, Romney will be visiting Greater Cincinnati Thursday.
A new motion by City Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan could
encourage more people and businesses to make use of the city’s LEED
program. The program uses special tax exemptions to encourage buildings
to be cleaner and greener.
Cincinnati’s City Planning Commission approved Plan
Cincinnati Friday. With the approval, the plan’s only hurdle is City
Council. If passed, the plan will reform city policies to put a new
emphasis on the city’s urban core. That means a cleaner, greener city
with more transportation options, ranging from walking and biking to the
streetcar and rail. CityBeat wrote about Plan Cincinnati here. The full plan can be found here.
Three Republicans in the state legislature, including
Cincinnati’s Sen. Bill Seitz and Rep. Louis Tehrar, introduced a
bill that would require health insurance providers to cover autism. Critics
say the move could cost small businesses too much during an economic
downturn, but supporters say it’s necessary to Ohio’s mental health
coverage requirement, which was passed in 2007. Seitz says the bill
could also save money by bringing down special education costs.
In a sign of Ohio's education funding problems, one report found two of three Ohio school levies are asking for
additional funding. But Cincinnati Public Schools’ (CPS) levy will only
not ask for extra funding or higher taxes; instead, it asks for funding
and taxes to remain the same. CityBeat covered Issue 42, the CPS levy, in-depth here.
A new report found Ohio students graduate with more debt
than most of the nation. The report named the state a “high debt state”
with an average of $28,683 in student loans — above the national average
Despite what a recent conflict between Commissioner Greg
Hartmann and Mayor Mark Mallory implies, Cincinnati and Hamilton County
are working together. The city and county are cooperating on the Banks
project, funding the Port Authority and operating the Metropolitan Sewer
Cincinnati is working harder to enforce a chronic nuisance
disorder. A property is classified as a chronic nuisance when it
surpasses a certain amount of crimes and violations. The law is meant to
hold property owners accountable for what happens in their buildings.
There are more signs that Ohio’s fracking boom may not be
sustainable. Natural gas producers are not seeing the profits they
expected from the boom. For many, the boom is quickly turning into a
bust. Still, natural gas prices have massively dropped, and an analysis
at The Washington Post suggests natural gas could play an important role in reducing carbon emissions. CityBeat wrote in-depth about the fracking boom in Ohio and the faulty regulations on the industry here.
The Ohio Board of Regents is using a grant to award 1,300 associate degrees to transfer students over two years.
Fourteen recreational trails in Ohio will get $1.6 million
in federal funding, according to the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources. However, none of the trails are in Hamilton County.The key to humanity: cooked food.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Following a national trend, Ohio’s
minorities have the lowest levels of health care coverage, according to a
new study from The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The study looked
at 2006-2008 data for only men to gauge health insurance coverage and
other health issues in a pre-Obamacare world.
by German Lopez
Study shows Hispanics have lowest coverage in the state
Following a national trend, Ohio's minorities have the lowest levels of health care coverage, according to a new study from The Henry J.
Kaiser Family Foundation. The study looked at 2006-2008 data for only
men to gauge health insurance coverage and other health issues in a pre-Obamacare world.
In Ohio, Hispanics have the highest rates of no coverage
at 40.1 percent. Blacks are second with 25.3 percent having no
coverage. Meanwhile, only 14.6 percent of whites have no coverage.
The disparity is prevalent on a national level. Hispanics
still lead the nation with rates of no coverage at 46 percent, but
Native Americans overtake blacks on a national level with a rate of 38.5
percent. Blacks are 28.8 percent, Asians and Pacific Islanders are 21
percent, and whites are 15.7 percent.
The study assigned “disparity scores” to measure the
racial disparity in health care coverage. The national average score was
2.27. Ohio did better than most of the nation and its neighbors with a
score of 1.83. Kentucky was rated 2.06, Indiana 2.14 and Michigan
1.86. Pennsylvania and West Virginia beat out Ohio with scores of 1.74 and 1.31,
The study also looked at access to personal doctors and
health care providers. Ohio did a little better in this category among Hispanics.
The study found 30.5 percent of blacks had no access to a personal
doctor or health care providers, while 27.6 percent of Hispanics did
not. Whites remained at the top with only 21.1 percent not having access
to a personal doctor or health care provider.
For black men, the most striking national health disparity was that
black men were more than seven times more likely as white
men to be diagnosed with AIDS. For every 100,000 men, 104.1 black people
were newly diagnosed with AIDS. Hispanics were second with 40.8, then
Native Americans at 17.3, then whites at 13.7, then Asians and Pacific
Islanders at eight. Overall, the study assigned a 4.37 disparity score
to AIDS diagnoses nationwide.
In Ohio, the rates of new AIDS cases were better overall,
but the disparity score was worse than the national average at 5.23.
Among whites, only 7.3 out of 100,000 were newly diagnosed with AIDS.
Blacks were 46.2, Hispanics were 26.1, Native Americans were 9.8 and
Asian and Pacific Islanders were 1.6.
The report also looks at poverty levels, incarceration
rates, routine checkups, unemployment, the wage gap and more. The full
report can be found here.
Ohio Medicaid Director John McCarthy said on Sept. 26 Ohio might expand its Medicaid program, but at lower levels
than Obamacare demands. Using the incentive of federal Medicaid dollars,
President Barack Obama’s health care reform asks states to expand their
state Medicaid programs to include everyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The
requirement overlaps with the newly established exchanges, which cover
individuals between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty
level by providing a market in which insurance companies compete for
customers getting federal subsidies for health insurance. McCarthy said
he would like to eliminate the overlap and only expand Medicaid to cover
up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
Historically, Medicaid helps minorities the most. Medicaid
expansions in other states also showed improvements in health and
mortality rates while saving money by eliminating the amount of
by German Lopez
Hamilton County commissioners will vote on levies today. If commissioners do not increase the money levies generate, mental health services could be severely cut in Hamilton County. On Aug. 1, Thomas Gableman, Mental Health and Recovery Services Board Chairman, told the commissioners, “I cannot tell you we can do more with less. We cannot do the same with less. We will do less with less.”Republicans, including local state representative candidate Mike Wilson, have been pushing false information regarding a lawsuit filed by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party to restore early voting. After releasing a misleading press release, Wilson clarified his position to CityBeat. Politifact rated Mitt Romney’s accusations “False.”Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is calling for new regulations on internet cafes. Internet cafes have been taking advantage of legal loopholes to hold contests, according to a press release from DeWine’s offices.Ohio could finish the 2013 fiscal year with a $408 million surplus. The surplus could give more ground to Gov. John Kasich’s call for an income tax cut.The swine flu outbreak in Ohio is being watched carefully by CDC officials. The CDC is worried the virus could mutate, making it deadlier or more contagious.Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has a big announcement about elections tomorrow. One reason for high health-care costs may be the fee-for-service model. The model encourages doctors to provide as many medical procedures as possible, even when they might not be necessary.Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra saw attendance and subscriptions rise in the 2011-2012 season.There are super PACs for everything. Even time travel.The public may be excited about NASA’s current mission, but future missions could be in jeopardy due to funding reductions.
by Danny Cross
City Council is expected to vote this morning to divert
the $4 million for the City Hall atrium project to jumpstart the Music
Hall renovation, which has brought the city and arts supporters
interested in owning and operating the historic venue closer to a
compromise. Council could vote on the renegotiated deal later Wednesday,
though details of the lease agreement have yet to be released.
Council is also expected to approve a property tax
increase of $10 per $100,000 in valuation to fund capital projects such
as a new West Side police station and additional road paving.
Today’s Hamilton County Transportation Improvement
District meeting will include a presentation about the Brent Spence
Bridge that will probably include polls.
Gov. John Kasich today will sign a human trafficking bill
that makes the crime a first-degree felony rather than second-degree and
includes funding to help victims.
The ACLU will represent the Ku Klux Klan in a legal fight involving Georgia’s highway cleanup program and a pending First Amendment lawsuit.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday will rule on President Obama’s health care law.
Obama and Biden are still jamming Romney up on his outsourcing history.
A Walgreens store and other pharmacies in Washington, D.C. are offering free HIV
tests to make diagnosing the disease more convenient and to increase
College football has approved a four-team playoff to
determine its national championship rather than the computer-human
two-team plan that has faced scrutiny over the years. The new format
will start in the 2014-15 season.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: News
at 11:51 AM | Permalink
Experts weigh pros and cons in transition
In yet another effort to save tax dollars and fill holes in the state budget, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his health care advisers will streamline the state’s Medicaid system by altering the availability to care plans and condensing care regions. There are currently 38 health plans and 10 regions in the state of Ohio, which provide services to more than 1.6 million Ohioans each year. When changes in the system are implemented January 1, 2013, the availability will condense to five statewide plans and only three geographic regions, according to a press release from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The change is billed by Kasich's office as a way to simplify the way it offers coverage, eventually making a more sustainable, efficiently run program, which will supposedly trump the short-term inconveniences caused by the switch. According to The Enquirer,
Medicaid costs the state of Ohio around $4.8 billion each year — nearly
one fifth of the state’s budget. Those costs continue to grow. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the new plan will also mandate higher care standards and offer financial incentives to doctors, hospitals and other providers to help improve care quality and patient health.Selected managed care organizations include: Aetna Better Health of Ohio, CareSource, Meridian Health Plan, Paramount Advantage and United Healthcare Community Plan of Ohio. Managed care organizations who lost the bid include incumbent providers Centene, AmeriGroup and Molina Healthcare, among others. According to the Wall Street Journal, the loss of business marks a blow for those providers, who have benefited from covering "dual-eligible" patients — those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid services. WSJ reports that dual-eligible patients are seen as a $300 billion opportunity for managed care firms. Because Ohio is pushing to start better coordinating care for dual-eligible patients, dropped insurers will likely lose a piece of that pie. Streamlining the selection of managed care organizations available should help, in turn, streamline processes for dual-eligible patients, who often encounter difficultly in coordinating coverage with both Medicaid and Medicare services, says Jim Ashmore, performance improvement section chief for Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services (HCJFS).ODJFS reports that the new providers were selected using a fair, through and open application process that was “based on applicants’ past performance in coordinating care and providing high-quality health outcomes.” Although the changes are generally perceived as a positive move forward, service providers, including doctors and health centers, acknowledge that the disruption in services could cause serious confusion when recipients are forced to find new providers and obtain new Medicaid cards. In Kentucky, the three private managed care companies
which provided Medicaid services to more than 500,000 patients have
received an influx of care-related complaints, including inefficiency in
authorizing services and payment issues. Ashmore challenges the notion that the transition will be a bumpy one, noting patients have little to worry about: When the transition is made, everyone will likely receive an enrollment package in the mail that will outline steps to switch over new care providers.
2 Comments · Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Sometime in the next 10 weeks or so, U.S. citizens will learn whether the Supreme Court will uphold the first significant health care reform in nearly a half-century. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in
politics or couldn’t give a hoot, the decision will directly impact
you, your family and your friends for years to come.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 9, 2009
In an unfortunately all too rare case of political courage and discipline, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and a City Council majority ignored negative headlines and stuck to their guns last week in a budget showdown with the police union. The two unions that had balked at any furloughs to save jobs (the Fraternal Order of Police and Cincinnati Organized and Dedicated Employees, representing middle managers) finally agreed to deals to save the city from having to eliminate employees, including 138 in the police department.