State operating budgets are the largest undertaking most state governments undertake.  Ohio operates based upon a two year budget that is generally introduced, debated and enacted in the first half of odd number years to ensure the state agencies, schools, hospitals, and universities have access to funding as the new fiscal year starts on July 1. 

Governor DeWine outlined his proposal for the upcoming state operating budget this week to kick-off the state of Ohio operating budget season. The Governor’s budget coined Investing in Ohio’s Future  looks to continue a number of programs created during the current operating budget, including the Success & Wellness Funding for K-12 schools to support students overall health and wellness, Ohio’s H2Ohio water quality program that supports efforts to improve water quality in Lake Erie as well as throughout the state, RecoveryOhio supporting efforts to fight drug and alcohol addiction and supporting behavioral health efforts in the state, support for county and local government with the continuation of important state funding amongst a number of other priorities presented by the administration.

On the healthcare front, Governor DeWine maintains the continued expansion of the state’s Medicaid program to support individuals who lack healthcare coverage. The budget proposal provides $50 million in funding to support the state department of Health as well as local health boards to improve overall operations and systems. The funding also will support programs for infants and women with wrap around services to help improve overall health with efforts to reduce infant mortality. The proposed funding will support the state and local government to identify and address social determinants of health to improve health equality throughout the state.  One new item proposed will be a new licensure program for Ohio’s hospital systems. The specific details of this new licensure program have not been made available including the amount of the new license fee and program details. 

Although Ohio’s Medicaid budget amounts to almost of quarter of the states GRF spending this year’s budget proposal is less focused on the operations of the state’s Medicaid program, which has been the focus of the past several budgets. This is due to the fact that the Ohio Department of Medicaid is in the final stages of determining the next round of Medicaid Managed Care Organization contracts, and recently released the selection of a single pharmacy benefit manager to manage pharmacy benefits for the states approximately 3.7 million Medicaid clients. Both of these policy implementations are significant and will set to stage for the agencies spending throughout the next two-year operating budget.  As always healthcare will continue to be a focus for the state budget negotiations over the next 5 months.

As the actual operating budget legislation will not be introduced until later in February, more details will come to light on Governor DeWine’s budget.  The Montrose Group will be monitoring the issues on behalf of clients as the state budget works its way through the committee process and do not hesitate to contact Dave Robinson at drobinson@montrosegroupllc.com if you have questions or need assistance with any Statehouse issues.