Mandated Medicaid services will continue, despite costs –
By Patricia Beech –
As Adams County prepares for the inevitable departure of DP&L and the subsequent shuttering of the Killen and J.M. Stuart power plants, leaders of area agencies are wondering whether they’ll continue to have sufficient operating funds for the future.
Among them, the Adams County Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), headed up by Superintendent Liz Lafferty, is hoping the county’s Board of Commissioners will give their department the go ahead for a 1 mill new levy to be placed on the ballot this fall.
According to Lafferty, the county DODD Board originally requested the levy be placed on the spring ballot.
“We were being pro-active because we wanted to be able to capture six months at 100 percent of the funds before DP&L left,” Lafferty said. “It would have given us a cushion. We have a small amount of money we carry over each year, but we know starting this year we’re in the red, and it’s just going to get eaten away.”
In Ohio, the county Board of the DODD is the primary contact for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. The board serves two primary functions – to determine eligibility for services and to coordinate services for DODD clients.
Lafferty said services will not be effected if the DODD board fails to convince county Commissioners that a new levy is necessary to cover costs.
“We provide Medicaid services and we can’t deny them,” she said. “Ours is the only county agency mandated to pay federal match money. That’s our obligation, and it doesn’t matter how much or how many people use those services, we have to pay the matching amount, that’s federal law.”
Commissioner Brian Baldridge said even if voters don’t approve a levy, the county isn’t off the hook.
Said Baldridge, “By law we have a duty to cover the costs of required, mandated services like those provided by the DODD.”
Baldridge and his fellow commissioners have asked agency leaders to streamline their departments to cut operating costs.
According to Lafferty, her department has cut back and saved jobs by privatizing the DODD to Venture Productions.
All seven staff positions on the county DODD board are mandated by law.
“We have no extra employees,” she says. “We all wear 20 different hats, and have no plans to bring on more people. We’re responsible for everything, whether we have a staff of 30 or a staff of seven in every program – our job duties haven’t decreased, they’ve actually increased.”
Venture Productions also provided job opportunities for its clients at sites all over the county, including KFC/Taco Bell, Domino’s, Frisch’s, Prathers’ IGA, Comfort Home Care, and numerous others.
“There are numerous jobs available to our clients, such as small parts assembly, packaging, gardening, recycling, food service, labeling, secure document destruction, laundry service, fruit baskets, and company invoicing/mailings,” says Lafferty. “Venture provides employment services to approximately 60 individuals with disabilities both in the community at work sites and at Venture.”