Major changes coming to Medicaid and SNAP due to the end of pandemic measures were announced at the weekly Wednesday meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners.
Jeremy Ratcliff, director of Highland County Jobs and Family Services (HCJFS), said that in March 2020, “major adjustments” were made to Medicaid and SNAP.
He said that for SNAP, benefits automatically increased every month since then, which was called SNAP Supplements. However, he said that guidance from the federal government said that the last supplemental payment of SNAP would be coming to people in February 2023. Ratcliff said that starting in March, SNAP will revert back to its regular eligibility amount of pre-pandemic level.
Ratcliff said the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) has done a good job communicating the change by sending out letters, robocalls and text messages. He also said that he wanted to tell people receiving those messages that they are legitimate and to expect to see what could be considered a decrease in their benefit amount. However, he also said that the decrease was really an elimination of supplemental payments from the pandemic change.
“However, you know, we were talking earlier this week, for a lot of folks, I mean, that’s a three-year program, right? And so that became business as usual,” Ratcliff said. “That folks expected to get those benefits every month and so I’m here to just kind of get the word out to folks that this will not continue. February will be the last month they receive those SNAP supplements.”
In terms of Medicaid, Ratcliff said the pandemic change was linked to the public health emergency. He said since the start of the pandemic, HCJFS hasn’t been allowed to take any adverse action for Medicaid recipients. He said that meant that if there was a change in income or if people failed to turn in any requested documents, the recipient was automatically continued. He said the changes for Medicaid would become effective in April. However, he also said that ODJFS will be spending the next two to three weeks running passive eligibility, so some people might automatically be continued while others might not.
“The key I really want our folks to know is, our citizens and our recipients, is make sure your address and phone number are updated with our office because that’s how we’re going to communicate this,” Ratcliff said. “We’re also going to be sending out notices. We will be sending out requests for documents and the potential exists that on April 30, some folks will be terminated from the Medicaid program. Now, they have the potential to appeal that, you know, reapply, but we’re really trying to get out ahead of these two major changes for our public assistance programs because we understand that it could cause a little confusion.”
In other news, Highland County Recorder Chad McConnaughey attended the meeting to give an update on his office’s work for the prior year. He said 2021 was a “huge” year for the office and that it saw a decrease in its numbers a little bit last year. He said interest rates went up around the end of the year, which meant the number of documents they were recording went down because fewer people were refinancing and buying property.
McConnaughey said the office recorded 6,908 documents in 2022, which was a drop from 1,007 documents in 2021, directly resulting in a decrease of $73,702 in money brought in.
However, he said e-recordings “drastically” increased as time has gone on. He said 38 percent of the recordings in 2022 were e-recordings, with 40 percent of them being e-recordings in 2021.
McConnaughey said the office’s biggest project is the CARES Act funding scan project that it received a year and a half ago. He said the office had 97 books back-scanned, and from those books everything was done by its vendor except the legal description, the latter of which is what the office is doing now.
He also said that for storage building records, one of the things that should be researched is a film reader that could print off the film. He said something like that might cost around $6,000 to 7,000. But McConnaughey said if scanning was planned to be done at the building, the committee might want to go with something a little higher in price than what they’d need and purchase one that could hook into the server.
Commissioner Terry Britton said the equipment going into the records storage building is the second step of the project. Commissioner Dave Daniels said that he didn’t think it was too early to have conversations about equipment at the facility.
Jamie Chaney, the leadership academy coordinator with the I’m a Child of Highland County Youth Leadership Academy, brought members of the academy to the morning meeting. She said the academy “works to instill and educate in future leaders the assets and opportunities that exist within our county.” She also said there are currently eight students from Fairfield and five from Bright Local involved with the program, but that it was also supposed to be from all the county schools. Chaney said the academy is trying to teach that Highland County is a good place to stay after graduating.
“We need these young people to think about, after they go to school, coming back to Highland County, because it’s a great place to live and raise your family,” Britton said.
In other news, there were three resolutions approved by the board:
* Res. No. 23-18 is authorization for a transfer from County, Transfers Out to EMA for $30,000 for per capita match.
* Res. No. 23-19 is a directive for a portion of the County’s Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund (CLFRF) payment to the Rainsboro Sanitary Sewer Main project in the amount of $178,209.
* Res. No. 23-20 is a directive for a portion of the County’s CLFRF payment to the Fairgrounds Livestock Building project in the amount of $885,000.
There were also four contracts approved by the board:
* Contract 5 is between the board of commissioners and city of Hillsboro for indigent defense from Jan. 1, 2023, through Dec. 31, 2023.
* Contract 6 is between the board of commissioners, the Highland County Engineer, the Marshall Township Trustees and the Beaver Excavating Co. for a road use agreement.
* Contract 7 is between the board of commissioners and Unger Construction for the Rainsboro Sanitary Sewer Force Main project for $495,670.
* Contract 8 is between the board of commissioners and Perkins/Carmack Construction, LLC for the Fairgrounds Livestock Building project for $1.25 million.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.