Nearly every state in this region identifies certain professions and workers that must report known or suspected cases of neglect. Earlier this year in Ohio, for example, police officers joined the state’s list of mandatory reporters, the result of legislation signed into law in late 2018 (HB 137). The Ohio statute already was fairly extensive, covering professions ranging from attorneys and podiatrists, to animal control officers and speech pathologists.
Ohio’s list also includes the professions most commonly included in the mandatory-reporting statutes of states across the country, according to a study released this year by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families. In the Midwest, for example, with the exception of Indiana, every state singles out law enforcement, teachers and other school personnel, and doctors and/or other health care workers as mandatory reporters. Most states in the region also include child care providers, members of the clergy, social workers and counselors.
A decade ago, Ami Wazlawik, now a member of the Minnesota House, was graduating from college at an inopportune time — in the middle of the nation’s Great Recession. “I was like everyone else,” she recalls, “looking for a job.”
Instead, she found community service, working with students for a school year as a part of Minnesota’s Reading Corps, an experience that had a lasting impact not only on the students she tutored, but on her own life. Wazlawik says Reading Corps helped cement her commitment to being an active citizen, and is one reason she ran for public office.
And the program itself is often cited as a national model for how states can leverage the power of public service to address longstanding challenges or long-term goals.
School closings due to harsh winter weather are nothing new for the Midwest. But this past school year, heavier-than-usual snowfall and a polar vortex led to more shutdowns than usual in some parts of the region, and opened up discussions this year about state laws to help districts adjust.
Among the options considered by legislatures: one, provide “amnesty” to districts during especially bad-weather school years, meaning they’re eligible for full state aid even if they don’t meet state mandates on the number of instructional days; and two, make greater use of virtual learning.
When a health consumer receives care outside of an insurer’s network of providers, he or she may receive a surprisingly high medical bill, and face the prospects of paying unexpectedly high out-of-pocket costs.
These situations are not uncommon, and often not the fault of the health consumer — for example, he or she requires immediate emergency care, or an out-of-network provider is part of a larger team of physicians providing complex medical treatment.
As evidenced in recent polling data and new state laws, “surprise billing” has become a widespread concern among health care consumers and policymakers alike. In a poll conducted last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation, two-thirds of Americans said they were either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about being able to afford their own or a family member’s unexpected medical bills.
The Commonwealth Fund, meanwhile, has been tracking the spread of laws to protect individuals from certain types of “surprise billing.” By the end of 2018, the number of states with such laws had reached 25: nine with comprehensive laws (including Illinois in the Midwest) and 16 with “partial protections” (including Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota).