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It's Budget Season! Priorities for a Healthier Ohio

Tara Britton and Kelsey Bergfeld
Tara Britton and Kelsey Bergfeld

On episode 121 of Prognosis Ohio - “It’s Budget Season!” Priorities for a Healthier Ohio - Dan Skinner talks with Tara Britton, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, and Edward D. and Dorothy E. Lynde Fellow at The Center for Community Solutions, and Kelsey Bergfeld, Coalition Manager at Advocates for Ohio’s Future, about the state budget and their policy priorities. Dan, Tara, and Kelsey discuss programs and services that will be affected by the beginning stages of the Public Health Emergency “unwind”, as well as what they hope to see included in this budget.

Specifically, for the past 3 years, the federal SNAP program has given SNAP households the maximum allotment for their household size. During the looming unwind, Kelsey expresses concern that the extra safety net for 1.9 million Ohioans who receive SNAP benefits will be affected.

Tara talks about the Medicaid expansion in 2014 and applauds Governor DeWine for calling for expanded Medicaid coverage for a higher level for kids and pregnant women. However, there are 3.5 million Ohioans receiving Medicaid whose eligibility will be redetermined for the first time in 3 years, and it is expected that approximately 220,000 Ohioans will be removed from the rolls over the next year. Pay attention to the language here, folks, as we are facing the specter of an “unwinding” and a “cliff.” Ohio is at a crossroads of great consequence.

Dan asks if we are making any progress with evidence-based harm reduction strategies such as syringe exchanges, fentanyl test strips, and naloxone distribution. At the end of the last General Assembly, the Ohio House passed legislation that would decriminalize fentanyl testing strips, which Governor DeWine signed into law at the start of the year. But the budget is an opportunity to fortify our state’s commitment to life-saving harm reduction approaches.

Tara gives a special mention to doulas and the support they offer in reducing disparities to pregnant people. House Bill 142 from the last General Assembly almost passed, and there’s hope that bipartisan support will get it through the finish line this year.

Read more about the state budget process from The Center for Community Solutions.

Read more about Tara and Kelsey.


  • Dan recently had Greg Moody on the show to talk about the Medicaid expansion under Governor Kasich 
  • Dan previously talked with organizers from River Valley Organizing about their syringe exchange program
  • Listen to Prognosis Ohio’s past episode on Doula Care with the Children’s Defense Fund

Hosted and produced by Dan Skinner. Copywriting and production support by Angela Lin. Prognosis Ohio is a member of the WCBE Podcast Experience and the Health Podcast Network. Prognosis Ohio is a production of Prognosis Ohio, LLC.

Dr. Dan Skinner is Associate Professor of Health Policy in the Department of Social Medicine at Ohio University, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, on the Dublin, Ohio campus. He earned his Ph.D. in political science from the City University of New York. Skinner teaches and researches about, as well as advocates for increased access to health care, especially for underserved populations, as well as various aspects of social determinants that affect the health of communities, in Ohio and beyond.