May 29, 2015

Ohio may be first state to deny pregnant women healthcare

Governor Kasich may become the first elected official in the nation to eliminate healthcare coverage for low-income pregnant women since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Beginning in 2014, the law made millions of low-income Americans eligible for healthcare through Medicaid, and, as a result, over 450,000 more Ohioans now have coverage. 43 states expanded Medicaid eligibility to low-income pregnant women in 2014. But pregnant women in Ohio didn’t have to wait for expansion to see their coverage options increase. In 2007, the state, under then-Governor Strickland, expanded eligibility for pregnant women making up to 200 percent of the poverty level.


Now, Kasich is proposing to reduce that to 138 percent, forcing thousands of low-income women to go without coverage or purchase it on the private market. But monthly premiums and cost-sharing can make private coverage unaffordable for many women, and short enrollment periods can mean women can go months of their pregnancies without coverage.

At least five other states have made moves to reduce eligibility for the program since 2013, but none have ultimately enacted policies that made women ineligible for healthcare during pregnancy. Ohio may be the first.

Beginning in 2014, Louisiana and Oklahoma lowered the income level for women to be enrolled in Medicaid. But, in part due to the fact that women who become pregnant outside of the 3-month open enrollment period will be unable to purchase insurance on their own, the states moved these women into children’s healthcare programs instead. As a result, women will see their unborn babies benefit from prenatal care, while losing coverage themselves after childbirth.

Proposals this year in North Carolina and Maryland to reduce eligibility for pregnant women were defeated in the wake of widespread opposition among healthcare advocates and legislators, many of whom noted the plan would reduce prenatal care and undermine recent improvements in both states’ infant mortality rates. Access to prenatal medical care is directly linked to infant survival.

Currently, Ohio and Connecticut are the only states where cutting Medicaid for pregnant women remains in play. In Connecticut, Governor Malloy’s proposal was removed from the legislation by the Appropriations committee, but final negotiations are ongoing. In Ohio, the House retained Kasich’s proposal and the cuts remain in the bill as pending before the Senate.

Ohio is one of the worst states in the nation for infant mortality, ranking 43rd, ahead of only Oklahoma, Delaware, South Carolina, Louisiana, South Dakota, Mississippi and Alabama in the rate of infant deaths. The state’s rate of infant deaths is significantly higher than the nation as a whole, and is only slightly below where it was a decade ago. Governor Kasich has made infant mortality a centerpiece of his administration’s priorities. Eliminating a vital source of healthcare for low-income women, many of whom will be ineligible or unable to purchase insurance on their own, is contrary to this goal and won’t help the state’s women and babies.

Boston Passes the City’s First Ever Paid Parental Leave Policy

In our recently released Paid Parental Leave Report, we detailed the state of paid leave in our country,  outlined the benefits of PPL, and described policies implemented within cities, states, and private sector companies.  The report highlights that fact that the U.S. is the only developed country in the world without a guaranteed paid family leave policy.

Gains in paid family leave have largely been achieved through laws implemented within individual states and municipalities.  On May 18th, Boston joined the handful of U.S. cities that have passed such policies.  The ordinance, which was originally proposed by Councilors Michelle Wu, Tim McCarthy, and Tito Jackson, was signed into law by Mayor Walsh as the city’s first ever Paid Parental Leave Policy.


In a press release from the Mayor’s office, Walsh stated that passing this policy “is not only the right thing to do but it is important to the vitality and economy of our city. The benefits of this policy to both individuals and organization are a win-win and it is my hope that businesses will follow our lead and extend this benefit to their employees.”

The policy allows City of Boston employees (male and female, as well as same-sex couples) who have worked for the City for at least one year, to take up to six weeks of Paid Parental Leave during a 12-month period following the birth or adoption of a child/children.  Pay during the period of leave is structured to provide 100 percent during the first two weeks, 75 percent during the third and fourth week, and 50 percent for weeks five and six.

Read Innovation Ohio’s Report: “The Benefits of Paid Parental Leave”  

E-Schools: Ohio’s Baddest Apples


With recent revelations that one of Ohio’s largest online charter schools (or “E-Schools”) – the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) – was apparently paid for students who should have been dis-enrolled for chronic absence, it is important to examine how Ohio’s E-Schools are a significant drain on the state’s education dollar and account for many of the problems that plague Ohio’s poor-performing charter schools.

Four years ago, Innovation Ohio authored a look at Ohio’s E-Schools and found that the state was grossly overpaying these schools, while their operators provided huge campaign contributions to Ohio lawmakers. Since that time, while some E-Schools have seen slight performance improvements, the situation has gotten worse because now 10,000 more students attend and an additional $70 million are being spent on schools that, on average, graduate barely 35% of their students.

Our latest report, published on by the Ohio Charter School Accountability Project, shows emphatically that Ohio’s E-Schools are a significant contributor to Ohio’s overall poor charter school performance.

  • More than half of the money going from better performing Ohio school districts to worse performing charters goes to 6 statewide E-Schools
  • 98% of all the children attending charters that performed worse than their feeder districts on all the state’s report card measures went to the same six statewide Ohio E-Schools – at a cost of $72 million
  • Local Ohio taxpayers have had to subsidize $104 million of the cost of Ohio E-Schools because students in E-Schools receive so much more per pupil funding from the state than would their local public school.

Several provisions in Senate Bill 148 – currently before the Ohio Senate – would address some of the most pressing accountability needs in the E-School sector. However, they do not address the most glaring need – the need to reform how the state pays for its E-Schools.

Read the report: “E-Schools: Ohio’s Baddest Apples

Review Finds Women Not Getting Coverage Required by ACA

Women may not be getting the health coverage they were guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report by by the National Women’s Law Center, and the Obama administration has warned carriers that the practice must stop.

The April report outlined numerous violations by insurers in 15 states, including Ohio, which included excluding dependents from maternity care, limits on breastfeeding services and a failure to provide preventive services and contraception without co-pays or deductibles.


Late last month, I joined a panel on Capitol Hill to discuss Innovation Ohio’s partnership with NWLC to address shortcomings in plans offered in Ohio in 2014. Our work led to multiple plans modifying their policies for 2015, but the report found that, despite our work, many violations of the law can still be found in policies sold on the Ohio exchange.

The Ohio Department of Insurance, the state agency charged with reviewing and certifying plans for sale on the health exchange and that is headed by Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, was notified of the violations but did not respond.

tilesThe report was covered by the New York Times, National Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Following the report’s release, the Obama administration has issued new guidance to insurance carriers that they must cover all FDA-approved forms of contraception without co-pays or deductibles and provide other preventive services to women without cost-sharing.

A report on the coverage of women’s health services by Ohio insurers, including the results of a second review of plans offered in 2015, will be released in the coming weeks.


IO Analysis: The Benefits of Paid Parental Leave

reportimagesThe United States falls behind the rest of the world in providing workers with guaranteed paid parental leave. Only 13% of U.S. workers enjoy paid family leave benefits, and the number is much lower — 4% — among low-wage workers. Workers without access to paid leave are more likely to leave the workforce, stay out of work far longer, in many case relying on public assistance, costing taxpayers and the local economy all while reducing family economic security.

In Ohio, women make up nearly half of the state’s labor force. Paid parental leave policies are a critical way to keep our workforce and local economy strong. Our latest research looks at the state of paid parental leave and the many benefits it can offer.

Research Highlights

Paid parental leave policies have many benefits for women, families, employers and society as a whole. Among them include:

Strengthens Women and Families
  • The majority of young children depend on the income of working mothers, who are increasingly likely to be sole or primary breadwinners in their families. Paid maternity and paternity leave policies preserve income and increase health outcomes for women and their dependent children.
Reduces Gender and Economic Disparities
  • When taking leave without pay is the only option for a new parent, unmarried, nonwhite and less educated parents are the least likely to make use of this benefit. This relatively low level of leave-taking by less advantaged workers can create health and economic disparities for parents and children.
Improves Critical Health Outcomes
  • Longer leaves that result from the availability of paid time off have been shown to improve the health prospects of women and their babies. Rates of infant mortality, immunization and breastfeeding have all been seen to improve when women have access to paid leave during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Positive Impacts on the Local Economy
  • Paid leave policies for mothers and fathers increase the level of women’s employment and participation in the regional workforce, and contribute to higher levels of employment rates and wages for mothers in the years following childbirth. And by preserving family income, these policies also reduce demand for public assistance and social services.
A Stronger, More Productive Workforce
  • Paid leave policies have numerous benefits for local employers by improving employee retention, job satisfaction, and productivity and helping employers compete for top talent.

Read the report: “IO Analysis – The Benefits of paid parental leave for women, families, employers and local communities

Minimum Wage Proposal Would Help Ohio Women and Families

On Thursday, Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Bobby Scott introduced the Raise the Wage Act in Congress. The legislation would raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour and eliminate the tipped wage by 2020. The federal minimum wage would increase from $7.25 to $8 in 2016 (still below Ohio’s current minimum wage of $8.10), then by an additional $1 each year until 2020. After that, it would continue to rise as it would be indexed to the nation’s median wage.

The plan would raise the wage for over 1.4 million Ohio workers and add $4.3 billion to the state’s economy over five years. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reports that the legislation would result in a pay increase for nearly 29 percent of Ohio’s workforce, including 44 percent of African Americans and nearly a quarter of workers age 55 and older.

The proposal would be particularly meaningful for Ohio’s women and families. According to the EPI analysis, 62 percent of those who would see their wages go up are women. 43 percent of the state’s single moms would get a raise. And under a $12 minimum wage, 23 percent of the children in Ohio would see their family income grow.


Raising the wage has the additional benefit of reducing reliance on public assistance. The UC Berkeley Labor Center estimates that taxpayers spend nearly $153 billion each year on public support for workers making poverty wages. Over half of fast-food workers or their dependents are enrolled in one of four major public assistance programs.

Download: Economic Policy Institute’s Ohio Minimum Wage Fact Sheet



Budget Update: Chipping Away

Anti-worker provisions still remain in the pending state budget (HB 64) following the release of House revisions.  We explain what those provisions mean for the middle-class.

Labor budget update

Chipping Away:

  • Several provisions still in the budget will likely lead to more privatization and reduced working standards for important services like protecting senior citizens from abuse and neglect.  Additional changes also deny some workers’ rights to employees at community-based correctional facilities.

Race to the Bottom:

  • Another provision in the budget would end the long-standing option of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), which protects taxpayers and strengthens local economies.  
  • PLAs ensure that the terms and conditions of public construction projects are not substandard and the wages are fair.  They also help make sure that the work is done efficiently and effectively by doing such things as preventing strikes and requiring a higher degree of quality control.
  • Ending of this practice would likely reduce wages for working Ohioans and increase the risk of shoddy work on public construction projects.

Why it Matters for the Middle Class:  

  • When workers have fewer opportunities to bargain for the safety and effectiveness of their work, as well as the fairness of their wages, the economy suffers and the middle class shrinks.

Labor budget update 2

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Budget Briefing: Proposed House Changes

save the middle class

The Ohio House Finance Committee proposed a major overhaul of Gov. Kasich’s two-year budget that preserves tax cuts for those at the top without a way to pay for them and includes new threats to labor, the poor and local communities.

Key Points:

  • SB5 Revisited? Several provisions limit workers’ rights to collectively bargain and punish workers who seek that right.
  • In: Tax cut that favors those at the top. Out: Tax relief for working- and middle-class families.
  • Mixed Bag for Schools: Adds funding for school districts, but expands voucher programs that sends public funding to private schools.
  • Targets the Poor: Opens the door to stiffer work requirements for public assistance, regardless of whether work is available.
  • Impacts Communities: Phases out vital revenue for communities, punishes cities over traffic cameras and privatizes county jails.

Download our briefings on House changes to the Kasich budget.

Take Action to Support Paid Family Leave

reportimagesThe U.S. is one of only 3 countries in the world with no legal right to paid time off work for pregnancy, childbirth and infant care.  Only half of U.S. Workers are eligible for time off without pay.  As a result of the lack of a national policy, only 13 percent of workers enjoy any paid family leave benefits through their employers.

Last week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, an insurance program funded by payroll deductions that would fund paid time off for all workers, regardless of where they work.  Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has signed on as a cosponsor of S.786, but to date, Senator Rob Portman has not taken a position.

Ohio families shouldn’t have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a loved one.  Sign our petition to tell Senator Portman to sign on as a cosponsor of the FAMILY Act and support Ohio’s working families.

Heartbeat Bill Passes the House


55 Lawmakers Voted For The “Heartbeat” Abortion Ban

The so-called “Heartbeat” bill (HB 69)  passed the House yesterday with a 55-40 vote. It prohibits the abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as 6 weeks of gestation. Doctors in violation of the ban would face fifth degree felony charges. The bill permits exceptions only in cases when the mother’s life is in danger or when she is at risk of developing irreversible damage to major body functions. Despite its passage in the House, the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, due to objections that the proposal may be unconstitutional and face a difficult path in the courts.

Whatever the fate of the Heartbeat bill, other abortion restrictions are perhaps more likely to advance. A slightly more moderate  anti-abortion proposal, the Fetal Pain Abortion Bill (SB 127 and HB 117), was proposed in both chambers mid-March. This bill is fully supported by Ohio Right to Life and would ban abortions at 20 weeks of gestation. (Anti-abortion activists claim that a fetus is capable of feeling pain at 20 weeks.)

Here are the votes for the Heartbeat (6-week) Abortion Ban:

House Bill 69 Vote 3/25/2015
Yes: 55
Ron Amstutz Niraj Antani John Becker Louis W. Blessing III
Terry Boose Andrew Brenner Thomas E. Brinkman, Jr. Jim Buchy
Tony Burkley Jim Butler Margaret Conditt Robert R. Cupp
Anthony DeVitis Timothy Derickson Jonathon Dever Mike Dovilla
Timothy Ginther Doug Green Bob D. Hackett Christina Hagan
David Hall Stephen D. Hambley Bill Hayes Michael Henne
Brian Hill Ron Hood Stephen A. Huffman Terry Johnson
Kyle Koehler Steven W. Kraus Sarah LaTourette Al Landis
Ron Maag Jeff McClain Robert McColley Bill Patmon
Dorothy Pelanda Rick Perales Bill Reineke Wes Retherford
Jeffrey S. Rezabek Mark J. Romanchuk Cliff Rosenberger Margaret Ann Ruhl
Tim Schaffer Gary Scherer Kirk Schuring Marilyn Slaby
Ryan Smith Robert Sprague Louis Terhar Andy Thompson
A. Nino Vitale Ron Young Paul Zeltwanger
No: 40
Marlene Anielski Nickie J. Antonio Mike Ashford Nan A. Baker
Kevin Boyce Janine R. Boyd Tim W. Brown Nicholas J. Celebrezze
Jack Cera Kathleen Clyde Hearcel F. Craig Michael F. Curtin
Denise Driehaus Mike Duffey Teresa Fedor Ronald V. Gerberry
Anne Gonzales Cheryl L. Grossman Stephanie D. Howse Greta Johnson
Stephanie Kunze David Leland Michele Lepore-Hagan Nathan H. Manning
Sean O’Brien Michael J. O’Brien John Patterson Debbie Phillips
Dan Ramos Alicia Reece John M. Rogers Scott Ryan
Barbara R. Sears Michael Sheehy Stephen Slesnick Kent Smith
Michael Stinziano Fred Strahorn Martin J. Sweeney Emilia Strong Sykes


As always, a complete list of Ohio legislation impacting women can be found on our Women’s Watch page. We will add information and analysis on bills as they emerge during the 2015-2016 legislative session. Follow Ohio Women’s Watch on Twitter and Facebook to receive updates and alerts on legislative action.