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Gov. John Kasich adds autism treatment services to Ohio’s health insurance plans

Published: Friday, December 21, 2012 @ 6:00 PM
Updated: Friday, December 21, 2012 @ 6:00 PM

Insurance coverage for autism services, including critical applied behavior analysis, would be available to all state employees and individuals purchasing health insurance through state-based exchanges under plans announced Friday by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Autism services, including up to 20 hours of behavioral treatment a week, would be defined as part of the “essential health benefit” package mandated by the state and required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The federal health care law requires every state to offer minimum insurance benefits to its residents beginning in 2014 when the on-line health exchanges are scheduled to launch. But the law also allows states to define specific benefits.

In addition to making autism services a mandated benefit in Ohio’s private insurance market, Kasich proposes expanding the benefit to all state employees. That would require the approval of the state’s five employee unions because the essential benefit requirement wouldn’t automatically apply to the state’s self-insured health plans.

“The governor has said we choose to subject (the state) to the mandate,” said Greg Moody, who heads Gov. Kasich’s Office of Health Transformation. “That requires a negotiation with the unions. We hope and expect that that will be a constructive, positive process.”

If the unions agree, autism services would be available to all state employees and their nearly 40,000 children. One in 88 children is diagnosed with autism, which is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, according to government data.

Lisa Houseworth, director of Trumpet Behavioral Health in Dayton, applauded the governor’s efforts but said “it’s about time” the state provided coverage for autism treatment, noting 32 states, including all of Ohio’s neighbors, already offer such coverage.

“Right now, there’s no real mechanism in Ohio to get behavioral treatment for autism because most insurances don’t cover it,” Houseworth said. “Ohio definitely needs to get in the ballgame and get it covered.”

Houseworth said many of the autistic kids she sees have their treatments paid for privately, which can put tremendous financial strain on the families.

“I have a family where the dad just got a second job, and they just took out a second mortgage on their home to cover the treatment,” she said.

Moody said Ohio’s new health care mandate would also help control costs for businesses that provide private health care coverage for their employees. Most large companies use self-insured health plans.

“If we didn’t have this, the federal government very well could come in and say we’re going to pick the autism benefit for you, and this is what it is,” Moody said. “Instead of losing control of that process, I like the idea that we’re acting now to create certainty for businesses.”

What Ohio lawmakers are saying about the Iran nuclear deal

Published: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ 5:47 PM
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 9:04 AM

President Trump Addresses Iran Nuclear Deal

Ohio lawmakers split down party lines Thursday not only on whether President Donald Trump should have refused to certify the Iran nuclear agreement but whether the Obama administration should have backed the deal in the first place.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D–Niles, acknowledged that the pact is not “perfect,” but said it “remains our best chance for lasting peace and nuclear nonproliferation in Iran.” He called Trump’s decision to not certify the agreement “a grave mistake.”

“There is no doubt that this deal is in the best interests of the United States and helps to neutralize a potential nuclear threat to the world,” he said.

He called Trump’s announcement “yet another example of the egregious mismanagement of our foreign policy (that) does nothing to reassure our allies that the United States is leading with a steady hand.”

The decision does not end the agreement outright, but instead sends it to Congress to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran. Ryan called for Congress “to do the right thing” to avoid an international crisis.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D–Ohio, meanwhile, worried that while Trump’s decision doesn’t end the agreement, it could lead to its unraveling. He said failure to adhere to the Iran deal might make allies and North Korea question whether the United States will stand by its commitments.

“There is no question we must crack down on Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region, including its support for terrorism — which is exactly why Congress enacted tough new sanctions this summer,” he said. “The president should use those sanctions, instead of leading us down a path toward unraveling the Iran nuclear agreement, which his own defense secretary has said would not be in our national interest.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the multi-nation agreement under Obama “has empowered Iran to increase its destabilizing activities throughout the region, while at best pausing — not dismantling — Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons and delivery systems.”

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He said he would like the U.S. to implement a comprehensive regional strategy to combat Iran’s influence “and hold it accountable for both its nuclear program and its destabilizing non-nuclear activities, including its support for sectarian militias and terrorist groups like Hezbollah, human rights violations, and increasing involvement in conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere.”

Republican Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth, one of four GOP candidates for governor, tweeted, “Obama’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal shipped billions to the world’s #1 state sponsor of terrorism & green lighted their nuclear weapons program. It threatens both America’s security & Israel’s existence. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for taking a critical step towards ending it.”

Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, said Trump’s decision should force Congress to develop a strategy “with stricter enforcement to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

“The Iranian regime has consistently remained hostile to Israel, violated multiple UN resolutions to build their ballistic missile program, and has posed a wide range of threats to the region and our own national security,” he said.

Rep. Bill Johnson, R–Marietta, said the U.S. should never have agreed to the deal.

“It only temporarily restricts Iran’s nuclear program, and does little to deter Tehran from continuing its thirst for nuclear weapons and technology — all while filling the regime’s coffers,” he said. “Not only has Iran repeatedly displayed a disturbing pattern of behavior while continuing to recruit and fund terrorist groups operating in Syria and Iraq, but the Iranian regime’s continued nuclear testing on military sites also undermines the standards set by the international community to promote security and regional stability.”

Rep. Steve Stivers, R–Upper Arlington, said he, too, was never comfortable with the Iran deal.

“From the very beginning, I had concerns about the Iran Deal because it is based on the failed North Korea Deal and did not include restrictions on the development of technology used to weaponize nuclear energy, such as triggers, fuses, and ballistic missiles,” he said. “I believe this decision will allow a new agreement to be negotiated which will include language to prevent a nuclear armed Iran.”

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said the deal had “an insufficient inspection regime, insufficiently addresses long range ICBM missile development, and is limited to 10 years, giving the appearance of permission to develop nuclear weapons during the 11th year.”

However, he said, he believes that Iran is “materially complying with the provisions that require Iran abandon pursuit of the development of nuclear weapons.”

“After the President’s statements today, the international community and Congress must provide sufficient leverage for amending the agreement in ways that could ensure Iran never obtains nuclear weapons,” he said.

Kasich criticizes President Trump actions on health care as ‘outrageous’

Published: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 2:10 PM
Updated: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 2:10 PM

Gov. John Kasich
Ron Schwane
Gov. John Kasich(Ron Schwane)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said it is “outrageous” President Donald Trump and lawmakers from both parties have not forged a compromise aimed at both stabilizing the 2010 health law and continuing federal dollars to help middle-income Americans afford their federally subsidized policies.

 

During an appearance Sunday on NBC’ Meet the Press Kasich assailed Trump’s decision last week to end those federal payments, saying the move will “impose higher costs on” on families who bought individual insurance policies made available through the law which is known as Obamacare.

“Some people will not be able to afford health insurance, or people will have to make very significant choices,” Kasich said. “And I’m talking about hard-working people, trying to work their way up and out of their situation.’’

But Kasich, who has emerged as a sharp critic of Trump, expanded his disapproval to include congressional Democrats and Republicans, charging Democrats are not showing much interest in a potential compromise to stabilize Obamacare, an accord being negotiated by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

“You know, Alexander and Murray . . . were out there doing things, and then they, like, disappeared,” Kasich said.

“It's a shame on everybody,” Kasich said. “And who gets hurt? People. And it's just, it just, it’s outrageous.”

Kasich and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper outlined a plan last month aimed at stabilizing the exchanges and preventing the federally subsidized individual market from collapse.

Kasich’s attack on both parties fueled speculation he is considering an independent bid for the presidency in 2020. Although Kasich said he did “not know what I’m going to do tomorrow,” he pointedly said his wife Karen told him last week, “John, I wish you were president.”

“That's how I knew the country was in trouble,” Kasich joked.

Kasich’s comments on Obamacare represent a shift from his presidential campaign rhetoric. As governor, he accepted hundreds of millions of dollars made available through Obamacare to expand Medicaid health coverage to more than 700,000 low-income people in Ohio.

But he refused to establish a state marketplace established by Obamacare where middle-income people could buy federally subsidized individual policies. Instead, people in Ohio had to buy their policies through a marketplace – known as an exchange – established by the federal government.

During a testy exchange with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during a Republican presidential debate last year in South Carolina, Kasich defended his decision to expand Medicaid coverage, but declared he “did not set up an exchange. And (Bush) knows that I’m not for Obamacare, never have been.”

Obamacare cut the number of Americans without health insurance or government-provided coverage by 40 percent. The law expanded Medicaid and provided federal subsidies to allow middle-income people could buy individual plans through exchanges established by the states or federal government.

A family of four earning as much as $98,000 a year could use federal tax credits to buy any of those plans.

For families of four earning up to $61,000 a year, there was an additional benefit. If they bought a silver plan, the federal government offered cost-sharing subsidies to reduce deductibles or other out-of-pocket expenses.

Congressional Republicans never agreed to spend money for the cost-sharing subsidies and Trump last week said they would be ended later this year.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-research organization in Washington, calculated that 7.1 million of the 12.2 million people who bought policies through the exchanges receive cost - sharing payments, concluding the payments reduced out-of-pocket expenses for the typical family by roughly $5,500 a year.

Some people will not be able to afford health insurance, or people will have to make very significant choices,” Kasich said. “And I’m talking about hard-working people, trying to work their way up and out of their situation.’’

But Kasich, who has emerged as a sharp critic of Trump, expanded his disapproval to include congressional Democrats and Republicans, charging Democrats are not showing much interest in a potential compromise to stabilize Obamacare, an accord being negotiated by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

“You know, Alexander and Murray … were out there doing things, and then they, like, disappeared,” Kasich said.

“It’s a shame on everybody,” Kasich said. “And who gets hurt? People. And it’s just, it just, it’s outrageous.”

Kasich’s attack on both parties fueled speculation he is considering an independent bid for the presidency in 2020. Although Kasich said he did “not know what I’m going to do tomorrow,” he pointedly said his wife Karen told him last week, “John, I wish you were president.”

RELATED: Kasich on Trump Afghanistan decision: ‘Not the way I think we should go’

Some people will not be able to afford health insurance, or people will have to make very significant choices,” Kasich said. “And I’m talking about hard-working people, trying to work their way up and out of their situation.’’

But Kasich, who has emerged as a sharp critic of Trump, expanded his disapproval to include congressional Democrats and Republicans, charging Democrats are not showing much interest in a potential compromise to stabilize Obamacare, an accord being negotiated by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

“You know, Alexander and Murray … were out there doing things, and then they, like, disappeared,” Kasich said.

“It’s a shame on everybody,” Kasich said. “And who gets hurt? People. And it’s just, it just, it’s outrageous.”

Kasich’s attack on both parties fueled speculation he is considering an independent bid for the presidency in 2020. Although Kasich said he did “not know what I’m going to do tomorrow,” he pointedly said his wife Karen told him last week, “John, I wish you were president.”

Missing East Cleveland 6-year-old found, parents arrested

Published: Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 2:23 AM

(East Cleveland Police Department)
(East Cleveland Police Department)

The parents of a previously-missing 6-year-old boy have been arrested, according to our media partners at WOIO.

Someone had called the police, saying that a little boy was walking alone in the street. When officers arrived, the boy was wearing just a T-shirt, and they took him to a hospital to be checked out. 

Police said that the boy had burn marks on his wrists and they believe he had been bound. Officers went door-to-door with a picture of the boy in an attempt to find his parents. The boy could not tell them his name or where he lived. 

After police found and arrested the boy’s parents, Children and Family Services arrived at his parents’ home and removed seven more children. 

Police said that the boy’s parents weren’t aware that he was missing. 

6 years after bears and tigers were set loose in Ohio: what’s changed?

Published: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ 5:54 PM


            In an August 2008 photo, Terry Thompson stands with some of his award-winning Percheron horses on his farm west of Zanesville, Ohio. Authorities said Thompson, a game-preserve owner, apparently freed dozens of wild animals, including tigers and grizzly bears, and then killed himself on Oct. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Zanesville Times Recorder, Chris Crook)
In an August 2008 photo, Terry Thompson stands with some of his award-winning Percheron horses on his farm west of Zanesville, Ohio. Authorities said Thompson, a game-preserve owner, apparently freed dozens of wild animals, including tigers and grizzly bears, and then killed himself on Oct. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Zanesville Times Recorder, Chris Crook)

On Oct. 18, 2011, Ohio gained world attention when sheriff’s deputies put down 49 wild animals that had been set free by a distraught man who then committed suicide.

Among the animals killed that day: 18 tigers, 17 lions, eight bears, three mountain lions, one baboon and two wolves.

Almost immediately, Ohio lawmakers enacted strict rules on the ownership of exotic animals. Here are three things that changed in the aftermath of the bizarre, surreal event:

1. Ohio went from having some of the nation’s loosest laws on the private exotic animal ownership to having some of the toughest. Owners had to register and micro-chip their animals, and meet strict standards on housing, training, transportation, insurance and enclosures. The law also prohibited the acquisition of more animals — except for certain species — and the state could seize animals from owners who failed to meet the standards.

2. A $3 million, 20,000-square-foot temporary holding facility was constructed in Reynoldsburg to house, feed, transport and care for animals that are either seized or surrendered to the state as part of the state law. The Ohio Department of Agriculture won’t say how many animals are housed there at any one time, citing security concerns, but since it opened in early 2013 the facility has held 207 animals, including 107 American alligators, 39 snakes, 18 black bears, 16 tigers, seven brown bears, and five cougars. Operation costs since it opened have totaled $3.6 million.

3. It’s safe to say that Ohio has fewer private owners. It’s not known just how many fewer exotic animal owners there are because they were harder to track prior to the passage of the law. But the numbers are down even since the law was passed. So far this year, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has issued 45 permits for 163 animals. That’s down from 64 permits for 218 animals in 2014, the first year the new regulations were in effect.

“I think it was a needed law,” said state veterinarian Dr. Melissa Simmerman. “Before this law went into effect, Ohio was one of the few states left in the country that had no dangerous wild animal-type regulations.”

But not everyone is happy with the law. Mona Kerby, who lives in Butler County and has owned an eight-pound monkey, Bella, for 13 years, said she has to pay $1,350 a year for insurance because of the law, and also submit to home inspections and mandated visits to a veterinarian.

“I do think there should be restrictions. but they should be reasonable,” Kerby said.