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Ohio House approves $615M for nursing homes

Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
Nursing home

Lawmakers in the Ohio House attached an amendment to a bill that would send $615 million to skilled nursing facilities to help with staffing shortages and keep establishments from closing.

The money was attached to SB110, which already appropriates $465 million for emergency rental assistance program.

Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) said this will bring much needed short-term relief to nursing home facilities that have been experiencing funding and staffing challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re seeing them shut down across the state, all over the place. They’re bleeding and we have to stop the bleeding,” said Edwards on the House floor Thursday.

Legislators have been asked by the nursing home industry to evaluate the state’s share of funding. The reimbursement rate is set at pre-pandemic levels, which advocates say falls short of what is needed to keep facilities open.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said there’s a clear urgency for many nursing homes, some of which had to close.

“It’s important to preserve the capacity so when people that actually need to be there they have a place to go,” Cupp said, also acknowledging the other options that provide a “range of care.”

Edwards stressed that the money, which is $204 million in state revenue funds and $411 in federal matching funds, is a short-term solution while lawmakers consider a long-term fix next year.

The House and Senate are also considering other requests for federal funds, including from the American Rescue Plan Act. The lame-duck session is a time when lawmakers tend to attach appropriations to a bill before the end of the year, also known as a Christmas tree bill.

The association representing food banks around the state has requested $90 million in ARPA funding to help facilities re-stock their shelves.

The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio is requesting the state put $308 million into addressing the housing issue. That would include $150 million to create 5,000 affordable rental units that would be developed by leveraging the 4% housing tax credit.

Cupp said legislative leaders are continuing to have conversations about potential appropriations. As for ARPA dollars, the state has $1.8 billion in remaining funds.

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