Hundreds of mental health and addiction counselors could lose their jobs because the state is now requiring criminal background checks for people who provide Medicaid services. Some of those counselors and their employers who’d be affected by the new policy are asking state lawmakers to step in.
Amy Fife has been a counselor and clinical supervisor with the Pike County Recovery Council in Waverly for five years. She is also in long term recovery for opiate addiction after getting caught for drug trafficking.
“They took a chance on me because I did have that felony conviction and because the stigma that goes with that. But they saw something in me, in that I could give hope to other people like I’ve found in treatment myself," Fife said. She testified before the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review Monday.
Providers say the new requirement hits them when they’re already understaffed and overworked – and that it goes against legislation that limits restrictions on job opportunities for people with prior convictions. They’re asking Ohio Medicaid to create an exemption for licensed providers.