News and Headlines


Ohio Senate Overrides DeWine Vetoes on Trans Youth Gender-Affirming Care and Local Tobacco Bans

The Ohio Senate voted to override two of Gov. Mike DeWine’s vetoes Wednesday — one on a bill blocking gender-affirming care for trans youth and the other blocking cities from banning flavored tobacco sales.

Both laws are now set to take effect at the end of April. The Senate voted 24-8 to override DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68, which blocks gender-affirming care for trans youth and prevents transgender athletes from playing women’s sports.

The bill prohibits transgender youth from starting hormone therapy and puberty blockers. A three-fifths majority vote from the members of the House and Senate is necessary to override the governor’s veto. The Ohio House voted to override HB 68 earlier this month and voted to override the flavored tobacco ban in December. The laws are set to go into effect 90 days after they are delivered to the Secretary of State’s office, meaning it would likely take effect April 23.


FDA Approves First DNA Test for Opioid Use Disorder

On Dec. 19, the FDA approved AvertD, the first DNA test to identify elevated risk of opioid use disorder (OUD) in individuals before they are prescribed opioid pain medications following surgery.

The test is available by prescription only and is intended for acute pain patients, and AutoGenomic Inc. must train providers on its use and conduct a post-market study.


988-Hotline Counselors Air Concerns: More Training Needed to Juggle a Mix of Calls

In the year and a half since its launch, 988 — the country’s easy-to-remember, three-digit suicide and crisis hotline — has received about 8.1 million calls, texts, and chats.

While much attention has been focused on who is reaching out and whether the shortened number has accomplished its goal of making services more accessible to people in emotional distress, curiosity is growing about the people taking those calls.

An estimated 10,000 to 11,000 counselors work at more than 200 call centers nationwide, fielding calls from people experiencing anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts.


CMS Finalizes Rule Setting Prior Authorization Deadlines for Payers

The Biden administration moved Wednesday to force insurance companies to give specific reasons for denying coverage, and to speed up the pre-approval process in general. The new rule applies to health insurance companies that offer Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Obamacare plans but not commercial plans. The rule concerns so-called prior authorization requests and will require insurers to return urgent requests within 72 hours and non-urgent requests within seven days.  Under the rule, payers must also report prior authorization metrics annually.

All told, the agency expects the changes will result in approximately $15 billion in savings over 10 years by reducing the health care system's administrative burden and improving health outcomes, noting that decision timelines for some payers will be halved.


Ohio House Republicans Target ‘Replacement’ Levies Used by Schools, Mental Health Boards, Libraries

Lawmakers proposed legislation that would block local governments from proposing “replacement” levies typically used to fund operations at townships, schools, libraries, mental health and addiction services boards, and others.

When an existing local levy runs its course, local government bodies have a handful of options: they can leave it there, and residents’ tax bills decrease; they can propose a “renewal” levy, which extends the ongoing tax at the same millage; they can propose an ongoing “replacement” levy, which extends the tax at the same millage but resets the millage to reflect increased property values; or they can renew the levy with an increase in the millage, which also updates for new property values.

House Bill 344 would eliminate that replacement levy option, while still leaving the renewal options intact. Rep. Thomas Hall, a Madison Twp. Republican, pitched the idea to lawmakers as means of straightening out reasonable confusion from voters as to whether a levy will increase their net tax bill.

“‘New levy’ and ‘increase’ are easy to understand,” he said during testimony on the bill. “But many voters treat renewal and replacement as synonyms when they function entirely differently.”

The sponsors and the bills backers said this confusion serves as rationale to eliminate – rather than rename or otherwise clarify – replacement levies.

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