State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and state Senator Dave Burke (R-Marysville) today wrote a letter* to Gov. John Kasich asking him to reconsider his administration’s move to shutter Cuyahoga County’s local Positive Education Program (PEP) Connections, a behavioral health program that serves some 500 high-risk youth each day.
“PEP Connections has changed the lives of so many families and their children in Cuyahoga County, and due to their intervention, 75 percent of the youth served by PEP Connections has shown a decreased severity of their clinical problems, and more than 71 percent showed improvement in their ability to function allowing them to live normal, healthy lives,” the bipartisan duo wrote in their letter to Kasich.
The Ohio Department of Medicaid will take away PEP Connections’ funding at the end of June, when the agency terminates a state waiver that ensures some $2 million per year in funding for the local organization. The department’s move comes amidst the state’s behavioral health redesign, as a way to cut funding and lower casework loads under the current administration.
“We look forward to finding a way to collaborate in our efforts to maintain this quality program for these children and continue providing them with the intensive behavioral healthcare that they truly need and deserve,” the lawmakers continued in the letter. “We sincerely hope that you will work with us and the Department of Medicaid to find a way to continue funding for PEP Connections for up to the next 12 months or until a new Medicaid-reimbursable service, such as High Fidelity Wraparound, is implemented.”
Burke and Antonio serve on the state’s Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee, the state panel tasked with ensuring accountability and efficiency in the state’s Medicaid program.