“Things are not getting better.”
That’s what Lisa Hamler-Fugitt told those assembled at the Springfield Community Conversation: Ohio’s Investment in Human Services, which was held at United Senior Services last week.
The executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks went on to point out that while unemployment is down, poverty is on the rise and median income is dropping. And she stressed “the Fiscal Year 2013 (state) budget allocation (for human services) is absolutely critical.”
Hamler-Fugitt also indicated that Ohio is fifth in the nation in the costs of hunger — increased illness, lost worker productivity and lost educational opportunity — and that has risen 34 percent since 2007.
She was one of three speakers who presented updates on the state budget and statewide perspectives on health and human services.
Deb Steele, statewide advocacy coordinator for the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio, made a pitch for expanding the Medicaid Program. She argues that would expand coverage to over 600,000 Ohioans who do not have health care insurance, generate billions in new revenue for the state, and produce better jobs for a thriving economy.
The Obama Administration has left the option of expanding Medicaid to the states, and Steele said Gov. John Kasich is considering whether to do that here in Ohio. She explained the federal government would fund 100 percent of the resulting cost for the first three years, 90 percent after that.
The money would come from taxes.
Other speakers — from the Madison County Department of Family and Children, Greene County Council on Aging, Second Harvest Foodbank of Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties, Clark County Family and Children First Council and Mental Health & Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties — made presentations on how their agencies are dealing with increased caseloads and demand for services with decreased budgets through greater collaboration and use of technology, changing procedures and implementing flexibility when possible.
Job and Family Services of Clark County Director Bob Suver said over the past four years, his agency has “experienced a reduction in resources that have resulted in a 33 percent reduction in staff, while service demands increased more than 50 percent in some programs.”
Contact me at Darryl.Bauer@cmg.com or 937-328-0341.