Lame Duck Update: NF package, Wallace testifies to House Aging Committee on AL Waiver, House & Senate leadership elections
The legislature wrapped up its first week of the lame duck sessions with sessions, committee hearings, and leadership elections for the 135th General Assembly (2023-2024) in both the House and Senate.
NF relief package
The Ohio House and Senate continue to refine a package of relief for nursing homes in Ohio, using the summer work of the Nursing Facility Payment Commission as a framework. The Ohio Senate is currently in the process of refining language that could provide over $300M in relief to nursing facilities. It is uncertain yet whether that relief will come via American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds or General Revenue Funds (GRF), but speculation is centered on ARPA. LeadingAge Ohio continues to advocate alongside other sector stakeholders to push for this timely infusion of crucial funds during lame duck.
This morning, Thursday, November 17, President/CEO Susan Wallace testified to the Ohio House Families, Aging & Human Services Committee in support of HB 572, which requires the Departments of Aging and Medicaid to establish a new program to boost waiver payments for Ohio assisted living (AL) facilities with high waiver census. The bill establishes a higher AL waiver rate for these facilities (tier structure based on Medicaid occupancy, no higher than 60% of the average Ohio Medicaid nursing facility rate), and seeks to provide Ohioans with more affordable AL options. LeadingAge Ohio’s testimony focused on the challenges with Ohio’s current AL waiver rate and the need for care options for individuals of lesser means.
HB 572 has the potential to pass and be enacted during lame duck. To review LeadingAge Ohio’s testimony, click here. A recording of the hearing can be viewed at ohiochannel.org when it has been posted by the state.
House & Senate Leadership elections
After months of speculation, Ohio House Republicans, who hold a record 67-32 majority in the chamber after the November general election, selected Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) as the Speaker of the House for the 135th General Assembly, beginning in January. Representative Merrin emerged victorious in the caucus vote after challenges from Representative Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and Representative Phil Plummer (R-Dayton). Speaker-elect Merrin also announced the new majority leadership team, which includes: Representative Plummer as speaker pro tempore, Representative Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) as majority floor leader, Representative Susan Manchester (R-Lakeview) as assistant majority floor leader, Representative Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester) as majority whip and Representative Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) as assistant majority whip. Representative Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) will remain minority leader next session.
Senate Republicans, who also hold a historic majority, will continue forward with Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima) as Senate President again. Senator Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) will serve as president pro tempore, Senator Rob McColley of Napoleon as majority floor leader, and Senator Theresa Gavarone of Bowling Green as majority whip. Senator Gavarone is the only new addition to the Senate leadership team, replacing term-limited Senator Hottinger (R-Granville). Senator Nicki Antonio (D-Lakewood) will serve as new Ohio Senate Minority Leader.
LeadingAge Ohio looks forward to building relationships with new members of House and Senate leadership.