COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As the state’s budget moves through the Ohio Statehouse, disabled Ohioans and their caregivers are asking the legislature to prioritize Medicaid — specifically, home care and community services.

Melissa Spain of Niles, Ohio, has a disabled adult daughter who she said needs 24-hour care. Usually, that care is paid for through Medicaid. But recently, Niles said that hasn’t been an option.

“I haven’t had a night nurse in over two years,” Spain said. “It has been a long time that we’ve been waiting for this to actually get better.”

Spain said she regularly has to call off work to care for her daughter. It’s a delicate balancing act, she said.

Joseph Russell, the executive director for the Ohio Council for Home Care and Hospice, said Medicaid reimbursement rates have been stagnant since 2000 — despite the rising costs of living and health care. The result, Russell said, is long waiting lists for services and fewer health care providers accepting Medicaid recipients.

There are 150,000 Ohioans using home or community care services through Medicaid, Russell said. An additional 2,000 people in the state are on a waiting list for home care services, and 3,000 other Ohioans need services but haven’t been assessed to join the program.

“It’s quite literally the difference between someone being able to live at home, where they’ve probably lived for a long time, or to having to move into a health care institutional environment and lose a lot of control over their lives,” Russell said.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed operating budget allocates $86 million for home and community Medicaid services. Russell said he looks forward to conversations with lawmakers about the allocation — specifically about reimbursement rate transparency.

“We can start putting together a real plan on how we’re going to not just stabilize home and community based services for Medicaid recipients, but really save the program,” he said.