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The Reasoning Behind Governor DeWine's $775 Million Budget Reduction

This week, Governor DeWine announced $775 million in cuts to the state operating budget due to financial repercussions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Reductions –The DeWine administration will reduce General Revenue Fund spending by $775 million between now and the end of the state fiscal year (June). The following reductions will be made for the next two months:

  • Medicaid: $210 million
  • K12 Foundation Payment Reduction: $300 million
  • Other Education Budget Line Items: $55 million
  • Higher Education: $110 million
  • All Other Agencies: $100 million

Recent Timeline The state is required by statute to have a balanced budget each biennium. As Ohio enters month 11 of its 24-month budget, the motivation to balance the budget is forcing the cuts. In making his announcement, the Governor chronologically broke down how Ohio arrived at its present condition:

  • February, the state was running $200 million above budget estimates;
  • April, the state was forced to shut down to mitigate COVID-19;
  • As of May 6, 2020, the state is $776.9 million in the red; and
  • He expects the state to continue to experience budgetary concerns for months. 

The ReasoningGovernor DeWine anchored his reasoning to future-facing concerns. He cautioned that, “[w]hile we do not know what the coming months will hold, COVID is here with us and will be here for months to come.” He hedged his possible cautionary actions by pointing to his unwillingness to draw from the Rainy Day Fund for the rest of this fiscal year (two months), but will likely need to tap the budget stabilization fund in the next fiscal year beginning in July. 

On MedicaidThe Governor said that cuts to Medicaid will not come at the cost of essential services, and that he believes they will be able to find savings within the system even as the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, the Director of the Office of Budget and Management indicated that much of the Medicaid cuts will be achieved as an adjustment to Medicaid managed care plan rates.

For more, contact Daphne L. Kackloudis 614.246.7508, dlkackloudis@bmdllc.com.

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.

Property Owner Protection from Tax Valuation Challenges

New legislation provides significant new protections for commercial property owners against challenges to valuation primarily by local school boards and prohibiting side agreements to avoid tax valuation changes. The Ohio Legislature has approved House Bill 126 which will go into effect July 2022 but will effectively apply to the 2023 tax valuation year.