Ohio News Briefs

Feds reject Ohio’s request to charge new Medicaid fees

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Federal regulators have rejected a state request to charge new premiums to Ohioans on Medicaid.

House Republicans had inserted plans for the so-called Healthy Ohio Program into the state budget last year. The proposal sought to require certain adults in Medicaid to pay into a health-savings account to help cover their medical expenses.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rejected the state’s plan on Friday. In a letter, the agency says it is concerned that charging new premiums, regardless of income, would undermine access to coverage for low-income beneficiaries.

The state had estimated that between 125,000 and 140,000 people could drop their coverage or choose not to enroll.

Backers have pointed to the plan’s incentives to get Medicaid beneficiaries to take healthier steps, such as seeking preventative care.

Ohio delays preschool funding change until next school year

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A plan aimed at stopping Ohio’s publicly funded preschools from getting overlapping payments from multiple sources for services will be delayed until next school year.

Some lawmakers raised concerns that the change in how Ohio funds preschool would cut services for some of the state’s poorest children, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

A spokesman for the state Department of Job and Family Services confirmed Gov. John Kasich agreed to a one-year delay.

The policy change was aimed at stopping overlapping payments from the state and the federal Head Start program, a process known as “layering.” It was expected to save $12 million annually and take effect this school year. State officials said the money saved would be reinvested in the state’s child care system.

Republican Sen. Peggy Lehner, of Kettering, was among 22 of Ohio’s 33 state senators who signed a letter urging Kasich to reconsider. She said the plan wasn’t realistic and postponing it allows more time to review the policy.

“We are concerned that ODJFS did not have adequate data to inform their decision and underestimated the impact this rule will have,” the senators wrote to Kasich.

They said the change would eliminate more than 300 Head Start slots in Dayton and cut $2 million to Cleveland-area preschool providers.

Lehner said most states allow layering of state and federal dollars to raise the quality of preschool programs offered to low-income children while about 10 states ban the practice.

Head Start serves about 37,000 children in Ohio. More than 115,000 children are enrolled in the state’s publicly funded care.

Consumer groups appeal to prevent FirstEnergy rate approval

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Consumer groups are appealing a rate decision by Ohio regulators that guaranteed profits for FirstEnergy Corp.’s coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

The Blade reports the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and the Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition on Tuesday appealed the Public Utility Commission of Ohio’s decision on March 31, contending the rates undermine a competitive electricity marketplace.

The groups are also appealing a subsequent decision to rehear the case on a revised proposal after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission struck down the first.

The original deal was designed to lock in profits regardless of whether consumers could find cheaper power from other sources. The revised proposal now being considered calls for a surcharge on customers’ power bills that would allow the utility to collect $131 million annually for three years.

Ohio colleges field queries from potential ITT transfers

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Some Ohio colleges are fielding queries from potential transfer students left stranded in the midst of their studies when the for-profit chain ITT Technical Institute closed its campuses.

The for-profit college closed its more than 130 campuses across 38 states after the U.S. Department of Education banned it from enrolling new students paying tuition with federal financial aid. The college had nine campuses in Ohio.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Assistant Education Secretary Ted Mitchell say students can work with state institutions to transfer ITT credits into similar programs. Transfer fairs are also being organized on college campuses in the state.

Students enrolled within roughly the past 120 days who don’t plan to transfer are eligible to have their loans forgiven.

FBI searches NW Ohio sheriff’s office but won’t explain why

LIMA, Ohio (AP) — FBI agents have searched a northwest Ohio sheriff’s office but aren’t disclosing what they were looking at or why.

FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson says agents conducted an investigation in Allen County on Wednesday but she can’t yet share details. She says no one was arrested.

The Lima News reports Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish wasn’t at his office Thursday and didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Lima attorney Michael Rumer says he is representing Crish but can’t comment further.

Staff Lt. Matt Treglia is second in command in Crish’s absence. Treglia says he can’t comment on the FBI investigation or Crish’s whereabouts but assures residents that officers are maintaining business as usual at the office.

Crish became sheriff in 2009. The Republican is unopposed for re-election this November.

Streetcar service in Cincinnati set to make its debut

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati’s new $148 million streetcar service is ready to make its official debut, starting with several days of free rides.

The streetcar known as the “Cincinnati Bell Connector” is scheduled to begin carrying passengers Friday and will be free through Sunday. The streetcar will run a 3.6-mile loop through downtown, connecting The Banks along the riverfront and the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

Motorists are allowed to drive in the streetcar lane in most areas along the route, but there are streetcar-only stretches. Authorities say motorists can be ticketed or towed for driving or parking in those areas.

Fares will be collected starting Monday. Tickets are $1 to ride for two hours and $2 for an all-day pass. Riders caught without a ticket starting next week could receive a citation.

Baby boy found dead at homeless shelter where family stayed

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Police say a nearly 4-month-old boy was found dead at a Dayton homeless shelter, and his father was arrested after becoming confrontational with officers investigating what happened.

The infant was reported dead early Thursday morning at the shelter where the family was staying.

The Dayton Daily News reports police are investigating it as a suspicious death but said there was no visible trauma to the child. The boy has a twin sister who was reported to be OK.

Police allege the children’s 23-year-old father became uncooperative, punched an officer and was taken into custody. He was jailed on charges including assault on an officer and obstructing official business. He isn’t charged in connection with the boy’s death.

Big raffle jackpot draws crowds to rural Ohio bowling alley

GARRETTSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Thousands of people are flocking to a rural Ohio village for a bowling alley’s weekly raffle in hopes of becoming an overnight millionaire.

The jackpot at SkyLane Bowling in Garrettsville has climbed to about $1.5 million because no one has won for a year.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports the number of players recently has been several times the population of Garrettsville, roughly 35 miles southeast of Cleveland.

The Queen of Hearts drawing costs $5 per ticket. Players hope to guess which slot on a board of cards holds the namesake card. The eventual winner must attend the drawing to win most of the jackpot. The next drawing is Sunday.

Organizers took the raffle idea from a Youngstown-area pub that drew big crowds before a woman won $1.8 million.

Feds: Steel mill cited for failing to protect, train workers

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — Federal investigators have cited a northeast Ohio steel mill for safety violations, including that workers weren’t protected from a dangerous atmosphere caused by chemicals leaking into the ventilation system.

WEWS-TV reports documents released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration say TimkenSteel also failed to train workers to detect dangerous chemicals in the work area at its Canton plant.

A security worker had been found dead in an elevator at the plant earlier this year. OSHA says nitrogen used in the plant flooded the air and caused oxygen levels to fall. Officials said his death was preventable.

A plant representative says the company is in the process of improving its facilities.

The company faces a total of six safety violations and $113,000 in total penalties.

Man sentenced after admitting to attempted rape of child

LEBANON, Ohio (AP) — Prosecutors in southwest Ohio say a man has been sentenced to serve a decade in prison after admitting he tried to rape a young child.

Warren County prosecutors announced on Thursday that 29-year-old Jonathan Schneider had been sentenced this week after pleading guilty to felony counts of attempted rape and gross sexual imposition involving a child under the age of 13.

Prosecutors say Schneider had sexual conduct with the victim beginning in December.

The Lebanon man must register as a Tier III sex offender after he’s released from prison. Schneider must register every 90 days for the rest of his life.

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