BATH TOWNSHIP — Marty Heide, district outreach and director of special events for Congressman Mike Turner, paid a visit to the Bath Township Board of Trustees’ meeting June 6 to update trustees about the bipartisan legislation Turner has proposed.
Turner, who represents Ohio District 10, introduced H.R. 982: The Reforming and Expanding Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act to Congress in February 2017, which was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Turner later testified before the subcommittee regarding the bill in October 2017.
“Congressman Turner toured the juvenile detention facility at the Greene County Jail and learned at that time that once a person is incarcerated, Medicaid stops. Any medication that is delivered to the individual in jail has to be paid by the sheriff,” Heide said. “That rule perked Congressman Turner’s interest because there are drug treatment programs available for opioid and other drug addictions, so he introduced legislation that would continue Medicaid benefits.”
Heide explained that passage of the bill would amend title XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act to allow for federal payments to states for substance abuse services for inmates in public institutions, with more than 16 beds, under Medicaid programs. However, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health amended the bill. Under the terms of the amended version of the bill, Medicaid benefits will be provided to an incarcerated individual just 30 days before his or her release.
“Medicaid payments will only be provided to inmates part of the time they are incarcerated. This isn’t what we hoped for, but it is something,” said Heide. “It still gives the jails and other institutions the opportunity to provide some programs and medication for those people with addictions when they need it the most.”
Heide noted that the TREAT Act Bill headed to the House floor in May and is close to passing.
Congressman Turner also introduced legislation in April 2017 that would give youth aging out of foster care more access to affordable housing without increasing federal spending. The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act will allow minors to apply for housing assistance when they turn 16 years old. The minors would then receive priority preference for housing assistance six months before they turn 18 and age out of foster care.
“There is an issue of federally created homelessness among foster children. When foster children age out at 18 years old, they have no place to go,” Heide said. “HHS [US Department of Health & Human Services] and HUD [US Department of Housing and Urban Development] are working together to find a way to work out this proposed legislation.”
According to a 2014 report by HUD, between 11 and 37 percent of youth who age out of foster care have experienced homelessness. Studies estimate that 25 to 50 percent of young adults exiting the foster care system have trouble paying rent and face eviction.
“Congressman Turner believes that a vulnerable youth should not be faced with homelessness when aging out of foster care and transitioning into adulthood,” said Heide.
After introducing the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act, Turner received nearly a dozen endorsements from different agencies and organizations, including the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare and the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies. Heide said a committee would consider the bill before it is sent on to the House.
The Bath Township Board of Trustees will meet again in regular session 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 20 at the township office, 1006 Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.