I believe the role of our state government, in today’s society, is to promote and enact policies that allow our citizens to choose their own path—in terms of family decisions, career goals, and more—and find success along that pathway. For example, through different measures, we’ve strived to make it easier to own and operate a business, contributing to the local economy and helping many Ohioans realize their dream of opening their own storefront. However, it is also the role of our state government to provide for those whose lives have been made more challenging through no fault of their own.
Ohio’s children can fall into this category, and more importantly, children with special health needs. The Bureau of Children with Medical Handicaps program (BCMH) is a health care program in the Ohio Department of Health that assists families of children with special health care needs with finding quality providers and paying for services their children need. Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is one disease that BCMH helps provide coverage for. A chronic and debilitating disease that affects the lungs and digestive system, CF requires costly medication and equipment to treat and give children affected the best opportunity to live a normal life.
I joined some of my colleagues and advocates for CF this week to affirm that through the state budget process, the Ohio House intends to continue funding the BCMH program. Boomer Esiason, former NFL quarterback and founder of a foundation that raises money and awareness for research on cystic fibrosis, and the Hoffman family, stood with me to remark upon the importance of the BCMH program in helping families get the care they need for their children. Reverend Dave Hoffman, a resident of Marion, is father to twin 16-year-old daughters who have CF. and like many families, their private insurance is not enough to cover the high costs of Andrea and Alyson’s care, two strong and vivacious girls who lead active and fulfilling lives. After speaking to Andrea and Alyson, I realized just how important it is to ensure that their care is not interrupted by changes to BCMH—after all, they are certainly future leaders in Ohio.
The BCMH program provides aid to approximately 40,000 Ohioans, those struggling with cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and other challenging conditions. It’s a large program that many families depend on to get by every day, and it is our responsibility as state leaders to ensure those families continue to thrive. The state budget process—which involves various moving parts—is not the time to examine a complex program that benefits so many. Therefore, the Ohio House will continue funding BCMH in the budget and intends to examine ways to make it more effective and efficient for families in the future.
I truly appreciate the opportunity I had this week to hear from Boomer, Andrea, and Alyson about their personal experiences in managing cystic fibrosis. It is a disease that requires much maintenance and personal responsibility, but I could see that with the proper care, people who have CF can live happy lives and be productive members of our society. We just have to give them the chance, and the BCMH program helps do just that.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.