MR/DD dodges bullet with HB 119

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Thank you.

Lawrence County Board of Mental Retarda-tion/Developmental Dis-abilities Superintendent Paul Mollett told the Law-rence County Commission Wednesday he was deeply appreciative of their vocal opposition to House Bill 119, which would have significantly — and he said adversely — affected services for thousands of MR/DD clients across the state.

House Bill 119, in its original form, would have removed the right of local MR/DD boards to contract for certain services and handed that power to the state MR/DD board. But the bill would also have required the local boards to continue footing the bill for contracts.

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“This has to do with provider services and one example is homemaker personal care under a Medicaid waiver, which means it’s a Medicaid payment service,” Mollett said. Mollett said the big issue would have been a loss of accountability: MR/DD boards, including the one in Lawrence must rely on levies to meet the needs of clients. Losing control over such contracts but still maintaining the financial onus for them would have put local boards in the position of asking for money and then handing it to the state to spend.

As modified, the law allows the state to contract for services but also gives the state the financial responsibility for those contracts.

Mollett said while he was thankful for combined response from the County Commissioners Associa-tion of Ohio and the work from the individual commissions in the different counties, he is most appreciative of Lawrence County’s leaders who made phone calls to the highest levels of government to get the brakes put on the bill.

“In many counties you wouldn’t get the kind of personal response we did in Lawrence County and I felt like I needed to come and say, ‘Thank you,’” Mollett said. “It is remarkable to me that every time there is a serious threat to persons with MR/DD these gentlemen always rise to our support.”