COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — While lawmakers in the General Assembly are trying to decide what to fund, Ohio’s Treasurer wants to make big changes about how to fund.
State Treasurer Robert Sprague said his plan will support addiction services, infant mortality prevention, water quality and other public health challenges by paying after those projects wrap up, putting the focus on success and results over the lowest bidder. He calls it “Results Ohio.”
Sprague said Results Ohio will focus on tough-to-solve problems for the state where innovative solutions are needed.
“Let’s think about the heroin epidemic, for instance, in the state where we have sunk almost a billion dollars a year into treatment,” he said. “There has to be innovation that occurs so that we get higher recovery rates. We think that there’s an innovative way where we can pay for results on the back end and leverage some private innovation that occurs in the private sector, and we pay for the things that work instead of putting more money down the same pipe.”
Sprague said that many providers in the private sector are getting great results with new solutions, but they don’t have enough money to expand those programs. He said if organizations can raise money in the private sector for a 2-year pilot program, the state would measure the results and then decide payment.
“If it moves the needle and gets over that hurdle rate of what we expect in terms of producing recovery, then the state will buy back, let’s say it’s $1 million dollars to run that 2-year pilot program, we would buy back that million dollars plus a small rate of return at the end if you’re able to produce those results,” he explained.
The treasurer’s office is stuck right now, though, when it comes to implementing a plan like Results Ohio.
“We’re asking for some enabling language right now to create a fund that could pay for some of these projects on the back end, but at the end of the day the legislature and the governor’s office need to decide what the public policy priorities are where you would use this type of a financial instrument on the back end,” Sprague said.
It’s not just the opioid epidemic that could benefit from this program.
“It might be something that is measurable, obviously, and also a tough problem to solve for our state,” Sprague said. “It could be algae in Lake Erie, it could be infant mortality in Columbus or in some of our other urban areas.”
Sprague said there are two lawmakers sponsoring legislation that would enable his office to roll out Results Ohio and that so far, he’s heard nothing but positive feedback from legislators.