The conference committee is where the House will try to restore cuts and earmarks from their version of the budget that were removed in the Senate version of the budget. In reality, both versions are nothing more than smoke and mirrors until the projected revenues are reviewed. With 10.2% unemployment and a sinking auto industry - they are not expected to look good.
Along with education, one of the biggest drains on our budget is Medicaid and Nursing Homes....
The health-care program designed for the poor, regardless of age, gobbles up 38 percent of the state's current two-year, $52 billion budget. That's more than the state spends on primary, secondary and higher education combined. And nursing homes -- which are paid through Medicaid -- consume 22 percent of the state's Medicaid budget, the largest single portion. (PD)
So I ask... Would you feel safe if a person who has personal ties to the Nursing Home industry and makes a living off teaching people how to get around Medicaid laws played a major role in crafting the budget that will fund these programs?
If this obvious double standard does bother you, let me introduce you to Speaker of the Ohio House - Armond Budish...
Budish has built a national reputation advocating ways to take advantage of Medicaid, which has stringent income requirements. To qualify for nursing home care, a person can't have assets worth more than a few thousand dollars apart from a home.
In 1989, he wrote a book that discussed the subject, called "Avoiding the Medicaid Trap: How to Beat the Catastrophic Costs of Nursing-Home Care." And he wrote about the topic in columns for The Plain Dealer and Family Circle.
"How can we get prescription drug coverage if we have too much money?" asked one reader.
Budish answered in a 2002 Plain Dealer column by advising people with a home and $100,000 in savings to pay off debt and invest in exempt assets such as home improvements.
"You may put your CDs or stocks into your son's name to reduce your countable assets," he added. "If you need money later, your child can return it to you."
He still dispenses Medicaid advice on his weekly television show, "Golden Opportunities," which tackles issues of interest to older Ohioans. (PD)
Not happy with just advancing his own interests, Budish wants to share his power by helping out his longtime buddy and lobbyist for the Nursing Homes - Alan Melamed. Melamed personally donated $10,000 to Budish during his election campaign...
While Budish downplayed his role in crafting the budget, he can decide what line items make it into the House's two-year spending plan. And he came to the nursing home decision while his long-time friend and political adviser Alan Melamed acted as one of the industry's top lobbyists.
Melamed advocated for the Skilled Nursing Care Coalition, which represents three nursing home associations and led a public campaign against Strickland's budget.
Nursing home operators, their political action committees and employees contributed more than $72,000 to Budish in 2008, the year Democrats took control of the House and Budish maneuvered to become speaker with Melamed by his side. (PD)
Budish, Melamed, nursing homes, and Ohio Democrats feel their is no double standard and stress that we should not fear a thing - there is no pay to play. I agree! It is more like having your wife's attorney represent you in a messy divorce.