The Legislative Update is brought to us by Liz Powell, Esq., MPH, Founder of G2G. Liz is an attorney with 20 years government experience, including as Legislative Director on Capitol Hill. She leads a team of bipartisan professionals that has raised over $50M, run advocacy campaigns and shaped CMS reimbursement for clients.
We wanted to share updates on what is happening in Ohio and make sure you know G2G will be closed for the holidays December 23rd through January 1st. There has been a flurry of activity this past month as state legislators work to address a range of issues before the legislative session wraps up for 2019. Beyond Columbus, G2G traveled the state to work with not just state legislators but Members of Congress in home districts. Details are below.
State Capital Budget
The Legislature is officially wrapping up for the holidays this week and they are not expected to return until the week of January 20th. However, deadlines are approaching for Ohio nonprofits to submit to legislators their capital budget requests for community projects – all due December 31-January 10, 2020. Legislators then have two weeks to prioritize projects and submit those priorities to House and Senate Leadership by January 24th. In G2G’s conversations with Speaker Householder, House Finance Chairman Oelslager, Senate President Obhof and Senate Finance Chairman Dolan, we have learned that the exact date for when to expect the bill is in flux. In meeting with the Policy Director for Governor DeWine, he confirmed the state capital budget bill is expected to be introduced in late February or early March with most funding decisions made ahead of the bill’s introduction.
Ohio Congressional Delegation
This week G2G met with US Reps. Ryan and Kaptur in Cleveland and over the last three weeks with the District Directors for US Reps. Stivers and Beatty in Columbus. We discussed our work in health, defense, education, and economic and business growth for the state and agreed to collaborate on some initiatives. As Chair of the Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Kaptur is excited to do as much as she can to help Ohio entities leverage the research labs and other government assets to help grow businesses and generate economic growth here. G2G continues to strategize with her on this. We also met with US Senator Brown in Cleveland earlier this fall and again with his staff last week to explain all of our Ohio clients as he has a new regional representative. We also sat down with the regional director for US Senator Portman to review all our priorities and received support and invitation to keep coming back. Finally, we met with senior staff in DC and in the home district offices of US Reps. Gonzalez, Latta, Fudge and Joyce – all receptive to our efforts and excited to act on discovered synergies.
Step Therapy Legislation
SB 252, introduced by Sens. Bob Hackett (R-London) and Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) in early December, would no longer allow health insurance companies to utilize the step therapy process for stage 4 cancer patients. The bill would require insurance providers in Ohio to eliminate “fail first” provisions that require patients to first try an insurer’s preferred drug prior to receiving financial coverage for the therapy prescribed by a treating physician. Studies show tailored treatments are resulting in better cancer control and fewer side effects for patients who qualify for molecularly driven, targeted therapies. Under the legislation, insurance providers would be required to provide immediate access for medicines that meet one of the following three criteria:
- Approved by the FDA for treatment of cancer and associated conditions;
- Included in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) drugs and biologics compendia for treatment of the disease;
- Supported by peer-reviewed medical literature as best practice for the treatment of stage 4 disease.
A number of Step Therapy bills have been introduced in the legislature over the years and G2G has participated in advocacy efforts. In addition, Congressman Wenstrup has authored related legislation (HR 2279) in Congress to require a clear process for requesting exceptions to the step therapy process for all indications. G2G will be closely monitoring SB 252, HR 2279 and related legislative activity in 2020.
Ohio Rare Disease Council
Reps. Tim Ginter (R-Salem) and Randi Clites (D-Ravenna) recently announced the introduction of HB 412 creating the Ohio Rare Disease Council. With a membership composed of medical researchers, physicians, nurses, patients, lawmakers and state officials, the council would be charged with recommending ways to assist families dealing with a rare disease, opportunities for research and ways to collaborate with others around the state dealing with rare diseases including the families, health care facilities and government agencies, among others. A number of health organizations support the legislation including the American Heart Association, National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD), the American Academy of Pediatrics – Ohio Chapter, the Scleroderma Foundation – Ohio Chapter, and the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has been awarded $12 million in federal funding to address maternal mortality across the state. ODH also released a comprehensive report on pregnancy-associated maternal deaths, finding that the leading causes of death related to pregnancy were cardiovascular and coronary conditions, followed by infections, hemorrhage, preeclampsia and eclampsia, and cardiomyopathy. The report also found black women died at more than 2.5 times the rate of white women. Ohio was an early adopter of strategies being advocated at the national level through CDC and the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), while also serving as a resource for other states as they set up their own maternal mortality review committees. G2G will continue to engage with the organizations addressing maternal health and infant mortality next year.
Unified Preferred Drug List
The Ohio Department of Medicaid has finalized and published the Unified Preferred Drug List (UPDL) in preparation for January 1, 2020 implementation. The department explained that the initiative is another step toward reforming Medicaid pharmacy services and preparing to establish a single pharmacy benefit manager for the Medicaid program. The new preferred drug list means all Ohio managed care plans will use a standard drug list and the same prior authorization criteria. In cases where a Medicaid member changes plans, the member will not be required to change medications. The finalized drug list is available online at www.medicaid.ohio.gov.
Ohio will receive $39.4 million out of a $700 million settlement the federal government and states reached with the Reckitt Benckiser Group over its marketing of the opioid addiction treatment drug, Suboxone. An investigation found that the company made false claims about Suboxone, illegally delayed the introduction of generic forms of the drug and promoted the drug to doctors whom the company knew were prescribing it for unsafe, ineffective and medically unnecessary purposes.
Greater Cleveland Partnership Events:
- Public Officials Reception: G2G attended the annual GCP Public Officials Reception in November, which drew several hundred business leaders and public officials from across northeast Ohio. G2G attended and spoke with dozens of elected officials from the region, promoting our clients and issues to continue to educate and build relationships.
- New Senate President, Senator Matt Huffman Lunch: G2G talked with Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima), the Senate Majority Leader who is expected to succeed Larry Obhof as Ohio Senate President in the next General Assembly. Senator Huffman’s district includes all of Allen, Champaign, Mercer and Shelby counties, as well as parts of Auglaize, Darke, and Logan counties. Senator Huffman talked about HB 2, which creates the TechCred program and Individual Microcredential Assistance Program to help businesses find and train skilled workers. He also spoke at length about school choice in Ohio, the school funding formula, and various measurements of performing vs. non-performing schools. G2G continues to track his leadership path and priorities to position clients.
Roundtable with Governor Mike DeWine and Senate Finance Chairman Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls)
This fall, G2G participated in a private meeting with Governor DeWine and State Senator Matt Dolan, who is also Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. We discussed some health issues, STEM education, bioscience business growth, and high-tech innovation in the state. We also addressed the need for collaboration in developing innovations that advance society while generating jobs and business growth for Ohio. Both DeWine and Dolan were very receptive and said they want to engage in this with us. G2G also talked with DeWine’s policy director about specific items in the budget, thanking him for support in last year’s Operating Budget and laying the groundwork for next year’s Capital Budget. Since then, the team has been in to meet with the governor’s policy team as well as Dolan in his Statehouse office to follow-up on this dialogue. We will continue these communications in 2020.
Roundtable with Lt. Governor Jon Husted
G2G attended a roundtable event with Lt. Governor Jon Husted. Husted discussed his first year in office as it comes to a close and the success of this administration thus far. Husted committed to continuing to be open and available and encourages Ohioans to weigh in on issues. He noted that it is best to weigh in early and in writing so each idea can be thoroughly considered by the administration and those involved. He hopes to continue to see progress with InnovateOhio and how agencies work together. G2G continues to track InnovateOhio and continues to talk with members of the various advisory committees.
Community Roundtable Discussion on Healthcare Priorities
G2G attended a roundtable with CoverMyMeds and representatives for Ohio Members of Congress to discuss efforts to drive down healthcare costs through federal policy. Health organizations from the around the state were also in attendance to discuss how organizations could work with the government on these issues. No specific plan was produced, but the discussion proved valuable in connecting ideas to possible actions.
Updated In-Demand Jobs List
Lt. Governor Jon Husted recently announced the launch of Ohio’s updated In-Demand Jobs List. The list was created through a collaboration between the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). An “in-demand job” in Ohio is defined as one that (1) pays at least 80% of the state median wage ($14.10 or more per hour) and (2) has an annual growth in the number of jobs higher than the statewide average of 36 or annual job openings greater than 584. The In-Demand Jobs List is created using predictive data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projections from JobsOhio, job posting trends, and survey responses submitted by Ohio businesses. Ohio’s top five jobs are: registered nurses, laborers/freight/stock/material movers, medical secretaries, software developers, and medical assistants. A complete list and the interactive tool are available here.
Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) and other Democratic lawmakers and business leaders recently outlined their blueprint to strengthen Ohio’s minority-owned businesses. The ELITE program, administered in partnership with the London Stock Exchange, is designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses grow and scale up. Currently, ELITE is working with minority-owned businesses in Stark County, as well as several businesses in Youngstown and Southeast Ohio, to help expand operations and grow good paying jobs. ELITE recently announced the selection of Cleveland as the location for its U.S. headquarters. Please let us know if of interest and G2G can make the connections for you.
As part of an “enhanced” investment strategy, JobsOhio’s new leaders announced they plan to begin supporting smaller, growing companies, rather than the larger, more established companies they’ve traditionally targeted. JobsOhio’s previous approach gave grants and loans to established companies in exchange for a promise to hire or retain workers. The change may invite legal challenges, as the state Constitution bars the state from making investments in private companies. Supporters of JobsOhio’s move say investing in younger companies is needed and will help the state in its continuing struggle to improve the economy. They cite research that shows start-up companies are disproportionately responsible for creating new jobs. This is a welcome shift from the past eight years almost exclusively focused on providing economic incentive packages for established corporations.
The Ohio Third Frontier Commission announced the approval of $76.85 million in total grants helping entrepreneurs develop innovative products and grow technology startup companies. The bulk of the funds were awarded to statewide partners providing resources in the Entrepreneurial Services Provider Program (ESP) including mentorship; access to investors and capital; business support; assistance with intellectual property and marketing; recruiting talent; and incubator and accelerator program hosting.
- JumpStart Inc. was awarded up to $26.5 million for services in the Cleveland area and $5.65 million for services in the Toledo area
- Rev1 Ventures Inc., located in Columbus, received up to $14 million
- CincyTech LLC in Cincinnati was awarded $13.5 million
- Entrepreneurs Center, located in Dayton was awarded $10.8 million
- Ohio University’s TechGROWTH Ohio, was awarded $5.05 million
Third Frontier also continues to operate the Technology Validation and Start-up Fund (TVSF), which provides grants to Ohio institutions of higher education and other nonprofit research institutions. This helps demonstrate technology is commercially viable through testing and prototyping, with a goal of licensing the technology to companies. The grants also support companies aiming to license institution-owned technology.
Google.org Impact Challenge Ohio
Google recently broke ground on a new data center in New Albany. The company said the facility represents a $600 million investment in Ohio’s Internet infrastructure. The tech company also announced the launch of Google.org Impact Challenge Ohio, a $1 million grant competition aimed at nonprofits with ideas on how to create economic opportunity for Ohio communities. The competition, which is part of Grow with Google (broader initiative to create economic opportunities in America) will use a panel of local judges to select the top five submissions that will receive $175,000 in funding. Afterward, the public can vote to select a “People’s Choice” winner to receive an additional $125,000. In total, Google.org will award $1 million to Ohio nonprofits. Applications closed on December 6th and voting will begin in the spring.
OhioX, a nonprofit organization focused on “growing Ohio’s economy through technology and innovation,” announced its formation. The group will work to raise awareness, advocate and increase collaboration on those efforts, and will be led by Chris Berry, Partner and Co-Founder of GreenBlock, as president. The group will help connect start-ups, business owners, students, investors, employees, service providers, professionals and entrepreneurs, and provide “a shot in the arm” to help the state’s tech industry grow.
The first application period for the new TechCred program, supporting businesses in training existing employees to upskill them toward a more advanced position, closed on October 31, 2019 and results for those applications were recently announced. The next period for applications will open on January 2, 2020, and the program has expanded to include 219 additional technology-focused credentials in response to employer feedback. The program initially had 160 credentials, and this brings the list to 379. Lt. Governor Husted said the expanded list “demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that TechCred is meeting the needs of employers and keeping them and Ohio’s workforce competitive.”
U.S. Air Force Pitch Day
JobsOhio and the Dayton Development Coalition joined the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) as it awarded $15 million in new federal contracts to medium-sized enterprises as part of the U.S. Air Force “Pitch Day” event recently hosted in Dayton, Ohio. Pitches were tailored to help the military solve critical problems related to aircraft and weapons systems. The Dayton Pitch Day was one of 12 such events taking place across the country, featuring a cohort of over 300 startup and small business preselected by the Air Force. During the event, 23 companies pitched their products and services in front of nearly 600 attendees at Carillon Park in Dayton, Ohio, all winning federal contracts as a result. The AFLCMC announced it would return to Dayton for another Pitch Day June 15-16, 2020. G2G will keep tracking these opportunities.
G2G (Government to Growth Consulting), LLC is a consulting firm specializing in assisting businesses and non-profit organizations. G2G provides comprehensive consultation in the fields of government affairs, economic development, grant writing, public relations, and event planning. G2G also has extensive experience in the areas of lobbying, advocacy, fundraising and grassroots organizing.