Goodwill Columbus engages in advocacy efforts and active support for policies and issues that are critical to the organization’s mission.
Each year, under the direction of Goodwill Columbus leadership, a list of public policy priorities for the upcoming year is developed. Based on input from Goodwill Industries International (GII), the Ohio Association of Goodwill Industries (OAGI), the Ohio Provider Resource Association (OPRA), and other organizations with similar interests, Goodwill Columbus identifies critical issues upon which to build its public policy framework.
Goodwill Columbus is a nonprofit organization. As such, Goodwill Columbus does not support or oppose candidates for public office or political parties and only acts on issues related to the organization’s mission and current public policy framework.
Ohio Executive Budget FY2016-17
Governor John R. Kasich’s FY2016-17 Executive budget made a historic investment in Ohioans with developmental disabilities. Nearly $300 million was added to DODD’s budget to increase opportunities for individuals to participate in their communities, and to live fuller lives. More individuals want – and are able – to live in a community setting. Budget initiatives are designed to support this growing demand by strengthening and expanding the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver program.
The Enrollment Data for the Medicaid Buy-In for Workers With Disabilities Program (MBIWD) has reached 10,000. This means there are 10,000 people with disabilities in Ohio who have jobs and are still able to keep all of their Medicaid benefits!
MBIWD is an Ohio Medicaid program that provides health care coverage to working Ohioans with disabilities. Historically, people with disabilities may have been discouraged from working because their earnings made them ineligible for Medicaid coverage. The MBIWD program allows individuals with disabilities who are working to qualify for Medicaid with higher income and resource limits, and buy into Medicaid by paying a premium based on income.
According to the Social Security Administration, under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, states were given the option to provide Medicaid funds to working people with disabilities whose earnings are too high for them to qualify for Medicaid under existing rules, meet the specified criteria, and would be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments were it not for the earnings. In Ohio, the MBI program was authorized in 2007 by Ohio House Bill 119, and participants began enrolling in April 2008.
To qualify for MBIWD, a person must:
- Be 16 to 64 years old
- Be disabled per Social Security Administration guidelines, or as determined by Ohio Medicaid, or eligible under the MBI 'medically improved' category
- Be employed in paid work (includes part-time and full-time work) at the time they file an MBI application with Ohio Department of Job & Family Services (ODJFS)
- Pay a premium (if applicable) – Monthly premiums are required for those eligible who have an annual gross income more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level
- Meet certain basic requirements and financial criteria
The Ohio Olmstead Task Force MBI Committee regularly offers presentations on MBI across Ohio. If you are interested in scheduling a one hour presentation for your group, contact Chuck Beatty at email@example.com, 513-398-4923 (home), or 513-254-3978 (cell).
Historically, people with disabilities, and particularly developmental disabilities, have experienced unemployment, underemployment, and poverty at rates that far surpass their peers without disabilities. Additionally, people with disabilities are less likely to find steady or satisfying employment.
“Employment First,” the idea that competitive employment in an integrated setting should be the priority outcome for people with disabilities, is a national movement that continues to gain momentum. Governor John Kasich signed the Employment First Executive Order in March 2012, making Ohio one of 26 states with an official Employment First policy or legislation. A policy sets the direction, but will not alone improve employment outcomes for people with developmental disabilities. Successful implementation of Employment First requires a multi-pronged approach and a long-term commitment to systems change.
A comprehensive approach must focus on key strategies; all designed to work synergistically to impact a service structure that better supports people to achieve community employment and directs more resources toward that preferred outcome. These steps include:
• Alignment of state and local policies, procedures and planning across multiple agencies (schools, county boards, vocational rehabilitation, mental health, and workforce development) to improve community employment outcomes,
• Skill development for providers to better support people with disabilities in integrated settings,
• Realignment of funding structure to direct more resources to community employment,
• Increased access and availability of ongoing supports and services for people to achieve community employment,
• Improved preparation of youth and adults, including employability skill development,
• A strong focus on person-centered planning to discover a person’s interests and talents to inform vocational goals,
• Engagement with businesses and strengthened awareness of community members about the capabilities of workers with disabilities, and
• A method to track progress on achievements to hold the system accountable.
For a copy of the full report go to: http://www.ohioemploymentfirst.org/up_doc/Ohios_Path_to_Employment_First.pdf
Links: • http://www.ohioemploymentfirst.org/
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Agency
Goodwill Columbus seeks to ensure that services continue and are readily available to those with disabilities in our community. These services can be achieved through funding, referral, outreach, fee schedules and beyond, through the following principles:
• Acquire all available Federal funds for employment and independence
• Provide access to services for all individuals with disabilities
• Promote innovation as a principle
Workforce Innovation and Investment Act
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was authorized in 1998. Over the past 11 years the public workforce system has long awaited reauthorization that would address the evolving workforce and economic needs as well as the limitations in WIA with respect to training, funding, and service delivery design. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) replaces WIA and will be in effect for the next five years (2015-2020). The purpose of WIOA is to better align the workforce system with education and economic development in an effort to create a collective response to economic and labor market challenges on the national, state, and local levels. WIOA continues the trend in workforce legislation by further engaging the private sector to lead local workforce development efforts and focuses on introducing increased flexibility and accountability of board members. WIOA encourages an improved response to labor market needs by connecting board performance to outcomes that require an understanding of the correlation between training investments and economic return.
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act
Division B of Public Law 113-295, December 19, 2014
The Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act1 (ABLE) Act was signed into law on December 19, 2014 after many years of advocacy and bipartisan work in both the House and Senate. The law allows eligible individuals with disabilities the ability to establish “ABLE accounts'' for qualified beneficiaries that resemble the qualified tuition programs, often called “529 accounts'', that have been established under that section of the tax code since 1996. The new ABLE accounts will allow more individual choice and control over spending on qualified disability expenses and limited investment decisions, while protecting eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and other important federal benefits for people with disabilities. Without these accounts, many people with disabilities have very limited avenues to save and allow for further independence.
Click here for ABLE FAQs
Alterations in the tax code have been part of deficit reduction and tax reform discussions for the last few years, including several proposals offered by President Obama that would cap the charitable deduction at 28 percent for high-income taxpayers. This would have a direct impact on Goodwill Columbus and other nonprofits, as the deduction is an important and effective incentive for charitable giving. We rely on these additional funds to strengthen our capacity to meet the needs of our community and the people we serve.
It is Goodwill Columbus’s goal, along with Goodwill Industries International, to protect charitable giving incentives, making sure the reality of the negative consequences on the nonprofit sector are discussed and understood. Goodwill Columbus and other organizations in the nonprofit sector, provide essential services that strengthen both our community and economy, alleviating much of the potential reliance on government programs. Charitable giving should be encouraged, not restricted.
Goodwill Industries International Advocacy
Goodwill Columbus CEO and President Margie Pizzuti and Vice President of Marketing and Development Beth Kowalski join other Goodwill representatives from across the country on the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C. in May 2013 for GII Advocacy Days. Margie and Beth met with the offices of Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, Congressmen Steve Stivers and Pat Tiberi, and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty to discuss the mission and work of Goodwill Columbus.