This past Monday, the Ohio General Assembly approved a fee schedule for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services. This monumental feat, spearheaded by Governor John R. Kasich, presents Ohioans with disabilities with tremendous benefits and hope for a better future. Know that Ohio is the last state in the country to pass a fee schedule for VR services.
Why is a fee schedule important? More than two million Ohioans, or one in six people, have a disability. Citizens with disabilities have talents and skills that can be tapped to strengthen Ohio's economy. Governor Kasich and the Rehabilitation Services Commission (RSC) believe that this uniform fee schedule for VR services will help improve the quality of services that people with disabilities need to have in order to improve their opportunities for employment.
The fee schedule establishes a solid business model for managing federal and state resources. It will bring Ohio into alignment with other state VR programs. Ohioans should expect, and demand, that tax dollars are managed efficiently. While being good stewards of limited resources helps individuals with disabilities, it ultimately helps all Ohioans.
Before the fee schedule was enacted, there was no consistency in the cost for services. For example, a 2009 analysis found that community based assessment fees ranged from $18 per hour to $87 per hour. Likewise, job coaching services ranged from $20 per hour to $120 per hour. Today, the fee schedule will provide consistency in payments for 29 vocational rehabilitation services that totaled $42.5 million in FFY 2010.
This fee schedule positively affects individuals in Ohio who have disabilities. It will allow resources to be used to train and provide needed services to assist them in gaining employment. Standardizing the payment for services will ensure that needed dollars are spent wisely on training services.
We know that employment is the best way to make sure that those with disabilities are not left behind. As a father of a child with a disability, I am keenly aware of the challenges faced by those with disabilities and I am proud that RSC has expertise in helping individuals with disabilities achieve employment. This fee schedule will save money, help Ohioans with disabilities and keep Ohio's economy moving in the right direction.
Kevin L. Miller is executive director of the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission whose goal is to ensure individuals with disabilities achieve quality employment.