County to take hit after MCO change

Coffers could be $800,000 lighter next year

By Sarah Allen - For The Times-Gazette

Commissioner Shane Wilkin is shown during Wednesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Shane Wilkin is shown during Wednesday’s meeting.

Highland County will likely lose between seven and eight hundred thousand dollars in sales tax following changes to managed care organization (MCO) policies.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Highland County Commissioners, a letter from Ohio Senate President Keith Faber was discussed. Commissioner Shane Wilkin summarized the letter, saying that the county will no longer be able to impose sales taxes on MCOs, which are Medicaid funded.

“That’s a pretty big hit,” he said.

Wilkin added that he had previously spoken to State Rep. Cliff Rosenberger, the speaker of the Ohio House, who told him that there may be ways to temporarily fill that gap. He added, however, that those methods “would not be lasting.”

Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley was also present during the meeting. He said that the losses will start July 1 of next year.

The Associated Press reported in July that overall, Ohio stands to lose more than $1 billion in the next two-year state budget as it phases out the sales tax structure that hauled in hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicaid money.

The AP reported on a Columbus Dispatch study that found that nearly $400 million in additional county and transit authority sales taxes are also projected to be lost.

Since 2009, Ohio has charged a sales tax on services provided through Medicaid managed-care organizations to benefit from federal matching funds. Counties and transit authorities benefited through additional local sales taxes.

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services two years ago prohibited taxing only managed-care companies that deal with Medicaid. State officials say they’ll look at how other states deal with similar challenges.

In another tax-related matter, Fawley also provided the permissive sales tax receipts for this month. August’s receipts totaled at $604,182.83. That figure is higher than last year’s, which was $543,952.98, according to a material provided by Fawley.

Also on Wednesday, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner introduced Tori Priest, the county’s new health educator. She will be joined by another educator in the coming weeks to promote health messages throughout the county.

Warner said that currently Highland County is ranked 77th out Ohio’s 88 counties for health. He said he is “not satisfied” with that number, and so the county is “going to try something different.”

Warner added that health educators have seen positive results in bigger health departments.

The focus, he said, is going to be changing behaviors to promote overall better health. Target areas will be the effects of drug use, as well as diabetes education.

Warner also said that the health department will be offering free mammogram screenings on Sept. 16 and 17. Pre-registration is required. For more information, call the department at 937-393-1941.

Finally, commissioners said that funds are available concerning blighted properties, but that to to be eligible a county must have a land bank in place. The deadline for a county to apply for that money is Sept. 2.

Commissioners described land banks as a tool that could remedy some properties and turn them back into tax-paying entities.

Commissioner Shane Wilkin is shown during Wednesday’s meeting. Shane Wilkin is shown during Wednesday’s meeting.
Coffers could be $800,000 lighter next year

By Sarah Allen

For The Times-Gazette