Portman tours TAC Industries, talks about legislation in the works

Sen. Rob. Portman, R-Ohio, visited with the leadership of The Abilities Connection (TAC) on Wednesday to tour its facility in Springfield as well as talk about recent legislation he introduced in Congress.

Both pieces of legislation seek to expand coverage of Medicaid for particular services, which in turn can have an impact on those with disabilities.

TAC is a nonprofit that provides training and jobs to residents with disabilities. Also known as TAC Industries Inc., it runs a facility that produces and repairs cargo nets for the U.S. Air Force, inspects auto parts for McGregor Metalworking Companies as well as maintains a greenhouse operation that grows lettuce.

TAC’s workforce includes a large percentage of people with disabilities and currently has 188 workers on site. They also have 21 people working at alternative sites, according to information provided by TAC. The current unemployment rate for people with disabilities in Ohio is 17%.

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Overall, the leadership of TAC said during a presentation for Portman on Wednesday that they serve a total of 245 individuals.

“Until you get here and see what we do and you see the people doing it, which he wanted to do, you can’t realize what we have here,” Jim Zahora, TAC’s CEO, said of Portman’s visit.

The senator said he wanted to tour the facility and get a better understanding of what TAC does. Zahora said they have been in contact with Portman’s office for several months.

“We are on the fringe end of that but we can benefit and it’s all about the continuation of services for the people we serve and the people he is writing the legislation for,” Zahora said regarding two pieces of legislation that Portman recently introduced in congress with the hopes of being passed this year.

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The Ensuring Access to Direct Support Professionals Act aims to provide Medicaid coverage for services from professional caregivers while a patient whom a professional caregiver is supporting is in the hospital. Portman said that currently Medicaid is restricted from paying for those services while a patient is hospitalized.

Another piece of legislation, introduced last month, is the SENIOR CARE Act that aims to increase the Ticket To Work Program’s Medicaid age restriction and to allow for seniors over the age of 65 to continue to work and keep their Medicaid coverage, according to a news release sent from Portman’s office.

“I have met some people here who are well into their 60s and they want to keep working and that is great,” Portman said on Wednesday. “We want them to be there if they are continuing to be productive and feeling engaged and getting self-esteem out of the work here. Why tell them that they have to make a choice between their healthcare or staying at work.”

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