Tens of thousands of Ohioans told to repay unemployment benefits

After waiting weeks for unemployment insurance payments, some are receiving letters demanding they pay back thousands; software troubles continue to dog system

Marnie Behan got a surprising message in April from Ohio’s Department of Jobs and Family Services about her ongoing unemployment payments. Instead of sending her next unemployment payment, they said she needed to pay the Department. The bill was almost $3,000. She had 45 days to repay it, or the case would be sent to the Ohio Attorney General. Since March 15, new claims have inundated the unemployment system at a level not seen since The Great Depression.

Ohio hospitals remain mum on changes to local bed and ventilator counts; uncertainty affects local patients

The Ohio Department of Health gets daily updates on the total number of beds and ventilators that could be available for COVID-19 patients at hospitals throughout the state. But so far the agency hasn’t provided any hospital-by-hospital breakdown, and the agencies that collect capacity information on their behalf have also declined to release their assessments. The result: Ohioans don’t know how many beds and ventilators are available where they live. Timely and meaningful knowledge could benefit Ohioans from a health perspective, while also helping them understand the range of public policy issues surrounding the crisis. 

The availability of resources to care for COVID-19 patients could mean life or death for thousands of Ohioans. “It’s what keeps me awake at night,” said Ohio Department of Health (ODH) director of health Amy Acton, MD, MPH of her fear of running out of beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment.

Eye on Ohio Launches Project to Combat Misinformation and Disinformation on the Internet

Shana Black, Eye on Ohio's First Draft Fellow. On Thursday, a Cleveland man tweeted a picture saying that that local residents had taken to the streets to end COVID-19. The internet launched a vitriolic response, condemning the city for further spreading the disease. But no one, in fact, had marched. The tweet came from a satire account that had posted an old picture of a Cleveland Cavalier championship victory.

Campaign contributions pay off for Ohio utilities and coal interests

Nuclear and coal bailout is the latest in a line of favorable policy actions that shield noncompetitive plants from competition. Utility, nuclear and coal interests are big players in Ohio politics, giving about $3 million to Ohio political campaigns in 2018, according to data from the National Institute on Money in Politics. The industry interests have long been active politically. But just as competitive markets began coming into their own around 2010, the pattern of campaign contributions also shifted. Donations to Ohio campaigns from the utility, nuclear and coal industries in 2010 were more than double the amount for 2008.

Taxpayers Lose Out on at Least $11.25 Million, Homeowners and Banks Lose up to $80 Million in Little-known Foreclosure Process That Skips Sheriff’s Sales

This story was funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

For years, Elliot Feltner’s father-in-law operated an auto body shop in Cleveland. Later in life, a stroke debilitated the old mechanic, and his care proved a heavy burden for Feltner’s wife, Linda. 

Not long after burying her father, in 2009, Linda Feltner discovered her chronic cough was more than just bronchitis: it was cancer. She died three years later. 

When Elliot Feltner finally sorted through the medical bills and the loss of his only family, he discovered the body shop property he inherited owed considerable back taxes, which he couldn’t afford. So he put the shop up for sale and told the county he’d use the proceeds to pay off the debt. 

But after signing a buyer, the sale fell through because Feltner discovered the property had already been sold to the county land bank, he says without his knowledge. 

“They called me one day and said you don’t own the property. Someone else does.