Affordable health care, toxic drinking water, JobsOhio, and local banks

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    Catching Our Eye:

    Affordable health care. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear another Republican case attempting to throw out the entire Affordable Care Act, which would do away with protections for preexisting conditions for 53.9 million Americans and just under 2 million Ohioans, eliminate Medicaid expansion for more than 630,000 Ohioansgravely endanger Ohio’s rural hospitalsroll back no-cost preventative care, bring back lifetime limits on coverage, and stop allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance up to age 26.

    Toxic drinking water. Dayton Daily News’ Ismail Turay Jr. is reporting, “Ohio EPA to begin testing for ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water.

    “The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will start testing the state’s more than 1,500 public water systems for so-called “forever chemicals,” although the city of Dayton already tests its water for them.

    “The announcement comes on the heels of the U.S. EPA’s announcement that it will begin regulating chemicals known as PFAS.

    “Testing started early in February with several trials, and now the state is ready to officially begin the process, Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heid Griesmer said. The testing is part of Ohio’s PFAS action plan for drinking water, which was released in December. Last summer, Gov. Mike DeWine directed the state EPA and health department to develop the plan in an effort to address potential threats to both public and private drinking water systems.”

    Jobs for JobsOhio. Cleveland.com’s Andrew Tobias is reporting, “JobsOhio reports lower jobs numbers, larger staff for 2019.”

    “JobsOhio’s self-reported jobs figures were down in 2019, the first year under new leadership appointed by Gov. Mike DeWine, according to a new annual report from the state’s economic development non-profit.

    “JobsOhio took credit for getting companies to commit to creating 22,770 new jobs with $1.2 billion in new payroll last year. Both numbers are down from 27,071 and $1.3 billion in 2018. But the payroll number was the second-highest since JobsOhio was launched in 2013.

    “Capital investment, the amount companies spend on factories, machinery and other overhead, also fell from $9.6 billion in 2018 to $7 billion in 2019. The numbers all reflect future job and spending commitments, and not necessarily actually created jobs.”

    Take it to the bank. Columbus Dispatch’s Anna Staver is reporting, “Lawmaker works to rescue Ohio’s community banks.

    “More than one-third of rural counties in the U.S. have no locally owned bank, according to a 2019 Federal Reserve report on bank consolidation. Thirty-three counties had no banking offices at all, and 122 had just one.

    “‘Rural counties deeply affected by branch closures had higher poverty rates, lower median incomes, a higher share of their population with less than a high school degree, and a higher share of their population who were African American,’ according to the report.

    “Customers are increasingly turning to digital banking, but many rural residents told the Fed that issues such as a lack of access to reliable cellular service and broadband internet mean these alternatives don’t fill the void.”

    David C. DeWitt
    David C. DeWitt is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience covering Ohio politics and policy. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS and Plunderbund.com covering topics such as education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, government, business, labor, energy, environment and social issues. His work has also appeared in Government Executive, the Columbus Dispatch, Girlfriends magazine, Bleacher Report and the Ashtabula Star Beacon, among others.