Excerpted from an Ohio Watchdog post by Tyler Arnold

Ohio ACLU chief lobbyist Gary Daniels criticized a decision from the Ohio Department of Medicaid to institute strict background checks to be a Medicaid provider.

“[This is a] big door shutting in those people’s faces,” Daniels told Watchdog.org. He said this move is in stark contrast to the stance that the state legislature and Gov. John Kasich have taken on criminal justice reform.

The Ohio Department of Medicaid said this week that all Medicaid providers will be required to undergo a criminal background check to continue providing services. Before July 1, Medicaid providers would bill for their services; however, the new law dictates that they acquire a Medicaid billing number and receive reimbursements, according to Cleveland.com. However, to qualify for this billing number, providers must pass the background check. If one has committed a certain crime, that person may be excluded from being a provider for a number of years, depending on the crime.

Some crimes that could bar someone from continuing to be a provider for a certain period of time include violent crimes, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault and aggravated robbery. It also includes crimes such as drug trafficking, prostitution and theft.

Daniels told Watchdog.org that this background check is unnecessary and counter to what Kasich and the legislature have been working toward on criminal justice reform. Over the past decade, elected officials have been, at least in rhetoric, advocating for changes in the criminal justice system to offer second chances, and this move flies in the face of that progress.

Daniels said that this does not mean there ought to be no screening that would prevent someone from being a Medicaid provider, but that certain restrictions go too far.

In some instances, Daniels said, individuals charged with a crime will enter into plea deals that could lead to them falling under one of these categories. If workers were aware of the consequences of the plea deal, however, they may have chosen to go about their plea deal different, he said. The lack of knowledge among people bargaining for plea deals is that they are unaware of some of the long-term consequences of the conviction, such as being barred from certain employment and certain licenses, he added.

In the past decade, Oho has sought to reform its criminal justice system to offer people second chances with work on record sealing, expungements, employment and drivers licenses, Daniels said. Although most of these reforms have been “trimming around the edges,” rather than substantive change, he said it has generally been going in the right direction.

The move by the Department of Medicaid, Daniels said, as well as Senate Bill 1 – a bipartisan bill that increased penalties for fentanyl-related crimes – have reversed some of the progress Ohio has been making, Daniels said.

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, agreed with the ACLU’s assessment.

You can read the full post here.