House Passes State Budget Bill

[May 10, 2019]

The Ohio House of Representatives passed a $69 billion budget yesterday, which, among other things, addresses "surprise billing" and raises the legal age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21.

The bill, which passed 85-9, now heads to the Ohio Senate for further debate and changes.

One provision in the bill calls for all health care providers to give a cost estimate to patients within 24 hours of an appointment being made. Legislators said the provision allows for greater transparency in health care pricing and fixes the "surprise billing" problem. Rep. Jim Butler offered the amendment explaining that it specifies when an out-of-network provider gives emergency care, the provider would be paid either the in-network rate or the out-of-network rate, depending on which is the higher amount.

Legislators also proposed consolidating all of the different state agencies' contracts with  pharmacy benefit managers and creating a reimbursement program for county jails that have medication assisted treatment programs for inmates with opioid addictions.

The bill also eliminates personal income tax for Ohioans earning less than $22,500. Other provisions in the two-year plan would:

  • Require public universities to guarantee students the same tuition rate from their freshman through senior years.
  • Spend $85 million over two years to fund water quality initiatives.
  • Provide significant in foster care, allocating $60 million in additional dollars for public children services agencies.
  • Increase spending for technical colleges.
  • Increase the minimum base salary for teachers.
  • Earmark $20 million for school districts to buy new buses.

The budget bill must be signed into law by June 30, as Ohio's fiscal year begins July 1.

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