COVID Updates: The New Normal

By Alexandra Weingarth Policy and Advocacy Director

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to trickle into the summer days, the state of Ohio has been making steps to reopen the economy and to reopen Ohio’s businesses. There has been a lot of changes in and around the world as we begin to adapt to the “new normal.” There is no telling when this pandemic will be over, or if there is going to be a resurgence, but one thing we know for sure is that we will prevail! Even though COVID-19 has brought numerous challenges and hurdles, you as providers have continued to show how passionate and determined you are to overcome the adversary challenges. As we continue to adapt to the new normal, OCHCH will continue to advocate for your interests at the state and federal level with the help of our partners. While you have been working for the vulnerable Ohioans to remain safe in their homes, we have been working for you on issues surrounding COVID-19 and others that would have an impact on our industry.
I wanted to share 3 quick updates with you to give you a bit of insight of what is new in our space.

1. The state of Ohio has received 1.7 million Federal grant dollars to assist older Ohioans: This fund is an Older Americans Act fund for the Aging and Disability Resource Networks in Ohio. Each AAA will receive funding to: continue to be connected to the aging population by rapidly assessing the needs of older adults, available services, the workforce available to deliver those services, enhanced accessibility, and to combat social isolation.

2. U.S Senator Susan Collins made a comment about introducing a potential framework for telehealth reimbursement: There has been a lot of advocacy at the federal level to encourage a framework to be created to reimburse for telehealth services provided by home health agencies. The Senate Special Committee on Aging had a committee hearing on Thursday, May 21st and heard from multiple witnesses testifying from the home health setting. During the committee, Chairwoman Collins (R-ME) expressed that she planned to introduce a bill soon to create a framework for telehealth services provided by home health agencies. We look forward to continuing to advocate for telehealth reimbursement and will update you along the way.

3. OCHCH submitted written testimony for Sub. HB606: Civil Immunity- COVID-19 Transmission (Grendell, D.): This bill would grant civil immunity for essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis. OCHCH submitted written testimony to advocate that health care workers should protected. We stated in our testimony: “Providers’ number one priority is to keep Ohio’s most vulnerable patients safe and cared for in their home.” “The passage of this bill would help alleviate the burden of having to worry about facing unnecessary and costly civil lawsuits for these front line providers and allow them to focus on patient care.”

There are many more issues I can provide updates on surrounding the HCBS industry and COVID-19. Therefore, if you have any questions regarding what OCHCH is advocating for at the state or federal level- please reach out to alex@ochch.org or 614-885-0434 ext 204.

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