While Governor Kasich talks of renewing Medicaid expansion for abled bodied adults, his Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) is quietly reducing Medicaid services for Ohio’s developmentally disabled population.dodd

The DODD released its Final Report of the Strategic Planning Leadership Group in late December which calls for a 50 percent reduction in beds for Intermediate Care Facility homes that provide skilled nursing and personal care as well as community access to school, day services, and recreation for Ohio’s most developmentally disabled and medically fragile citizens.  Affected families across Ohio are deeply concerned about the welfare of their severely disabled loved ones now that this vital support system is being eliminated.

DODD’s plan is to move intellectually disabled citizens who require complex care into small homes throughout Ohio called “community-based settings,” despite outcry from families who made their sentiments known at a December 18th public meeting held by the DODD in Columbus. Families are well aware that the skilled nursing and behavioral supports vital to the health of these fragile citizens are not reliable in these so-called “community” settings which depend on the home health care system.

In December, the Columbus Dispatch published a series of articles on the crisis in home health care in Ohio. See here, here, and here. The Dispatch found poorly paid, low-skilled aides, rampant billing fraud, theft in homes, aides not reporting to work, a lack of regulation, and a lack of information for families to properly evaluate agencies.

And a Dispatch story from November further highlights family fears, “Home health worker charged with rape had record in North Carolina”.

The Dispatch reports that the Ohio departments of Medicaid, Health, and Developmental Disabilities declined repeated requests for interviews for The Dispatch’s series on home care. That these departments should decline interviews on Ohio’s crisis in home care after proposing to transfer intellectually disabled and medically fragile citizens into the system is outrageous.

And taxpayers need to demand answers as well because the Dispatch also reported that,

“…nearly 60 percent of cases handled by the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit each year involve home health-care providers. The unit has 100 full-time employees, nearly double the 55 it had four years ago.”

Medicaid began as a program to help our most vulnerable citizens – low income children, pregnant woman, and elderly citizens, and the disabled. By extending Medicaid beyond its original purpose, Governor Kasich has made an already stressed safety net even more unsound.

Kasich talks a lot about his faith and helping citizens in the shadows, but when it comes to arguably our most vulnerable citizens – intellectually disabled and medically fragile individuals – Governor Kasich remains quiet and takes away services.