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County Council gives partial support to Breaking Addiction Act

8/28/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Without the backing of one of its members, Summit County Council’s Health and Human Services Committee Aug. 25 recommended Council adopt a resolution of support for U.S. House Resolution 5136, the Breaking Addiction Act of 2014.

The five-member committee voted 4-1, with Councilwoman Gloria Rodgers (R-District 3) in opposition. Rodgers explained her position by stating she believes the act proposes an unfunded mandate, something she cannot support.

Councilwoman Paula Prentice (D-District 8), chairperson of the committee, said U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-District 11) advised her the opposite is true, that the bill is not an unfunded mandate.

Fudge introduced the Breaking Addiction Act, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-District 13). Fudge and Ryan both represent parts of Summit County. It would pilot a program in 10 states to allow Medicaid to reimburse the cost of residential addiction services in community-based programs that were previously excluded from Medicaid reimbursement.

The bill is currently with the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

According to the legislation before Council, the act is aimed at establishing a five-year demonstration project to expand cost-effective, community-based treatment options to address the heroin/opiate epidemic. Fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio, according to the proposed legislation, with 52 heroin deaths in Summit County in 2013 and 45 in 2012.

All Council members but Rodgers and Bill Roemer (R-at large) have signed on to sponsor the resolution of support for the act.

After Monday’s meeting, Roemer noted both he and Rodgers, who is a member of the Summit County Opiate Task Force, are concerned about the heroin/opiate epidemic.

Roemer added he also is concerned the Breaking Addiction Act would be an unfunded mandate, adding he confirmed that notion with U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci (R-District 16) and David Joyce (R-District 14). Both Renacci and Joyce also represent portions of Summit County.

Also, Roemer said he hasn’t yet been able to find any information on whether Ohio would be included in the 10 states piloting the program, another reason he isn’t ready to support the resolution before Council.

Also Monday, the Rules Committee recommended Council adopt a piece of new legislation that would add a chapter to the county’s codified ordinances regarding unclaimed funds held by the county’s Fiscal Office. The proposed legislation provides regulations for agreements with professional finders. Also, the legislation would enable county officials to twice yearly provide a list of owners of unclaimed funds to the Child Support Enforcement Agency for them to cross-reference with those in default of support orders.

Committees also recommended Council adopt legislation to:

  • amend a resolution to advertise for bids for a trailer for hauling wastewater sludge for up to $65,000, correcting a resolution passed in June to advertise for bids for two trailers for the same amount;
  • advertise a request for proposals to lease 650 square feet in the atrium of the Ohio Building to a small food service operation;
  • execute an agreement with the City of Akron to share the cost of a 10 percent grant match for a $1.5 million Assistance to Firefighters Grant to pay for upgrades to the countywide 800 megahertz radio system; and
  • award an intergovernmental agreement with the Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division to provide youth and family strengthening program services through a family resource center at the court at a cost of $370,000, a $30,000 increase over the previous agreement.

Council will not meet Sept. 1 in observance of Labor Day. Council will next meet Sept. 8 at 4:30 p.m. for caucus, followed by a regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St. in Downtown Akron.

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