Governor Mike DeWine (R) on Friday announced a plan to expand a number of social services in Ohio, including an increase in eligibility for Medicaid for pregnant women and children whose families make up to three times the federal poverty level.
The policy enlarges upon his Bold Beginning Initiative, which has already spent about $1 billion on services to expectant families. The broadening of Medicaid would make the program available to single expectant mothers earning up to $54,930 annually and to families of three earning as much as $69,090 per year. Legislative approval would need to occur for this measure to take effect.
In a statement, the governor said his ardor to get this change enacted comes partly from his own experience as a father of eight and a grandfather of 26. He said he wanted a social safety net that can respond to families’ varied needs and conditions.
“I have a vision for Ohio to be the best place in the nation to have a baby and raise a family,” DeWine said. “The research is clear: ensuring babies and their parents are safe and supported during pregnancy and the early years helps children succeed later in life. I want to see all children have the opportunity to succeed.”
Another change the governor said he will encourage lawmakers to effect includes elimination of state and local taxes on such infant supplies as car seats, diapers, wipes and safety gear. He said doing so will save families hundreds of dollars annually. Other elements of the governor’s plan include increased resources for maternal care, child behavioral healthcare and perinatal depression screening.
The governor also plans to increase Ohioans access to nutrition services such as the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
DeWine also voiced concern about low-cost housing availability for low-income families, something he said he hopes to achieve more of by persuading the federal government to grant the state a waiver to provide expanded short-term housing through Healthy Beginnings at Home and similar programs.
The governor furthermore wants the legislature to make families earning 150 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for government-funded child care and to lengthen paid maternity leave from six weeks to three months for state employees.
– – –