Nearly 100 people came to a town hall meeting with Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn, health and education advocates in Northwest Dayton Monday night.
The event, at Grace United Methodist Church, was originally billed as a town hall on the state’s budget shortfall, but the conversation quickly expanded to include a broad range of state and federal issues, including education spending, a federal proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and cut Medicaid funding for addiction and mental health treatment.
Dawn Cooksey, director of behavioral health services for Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, told the crowd proposed federal cuts to Medicaid would be devastating to Ohio’s ongoing battle against addiction. Montgomery County health officials say the county is on track to double last year's opioid overdose-death total.
“Our community is in the middle of an opiate crisis," she says. "The challenge is great and many lives continue to be lost to the opiate crisis. But if this tool, Medicaid expansion, is taken away, I can only imagine how many more lives will be lost.”
State lawmakers are wrestling with a budget bill that includes millions of dollars in cuts to hospitals, health spending and other services due in part to lower than expected tax revenue.
Governor John Kasich must sign a two-year budget bill by the end of June.
Monday's town hall event was organized by the group Dayton Indivisible For All.