State Denies Records Request for Welfare – Recipient Study

Columbus Dispatch - October 18, 2005

Columbus Dispatch

Researchers trying to study whether employer cuts in health insurance and other job benefits have caused more lowwage workers to seek public assistance are getting no help from the state.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has denied a public-records request by Policy Matters Ohio for the names and addresses of companies employing recipients of Medicaid and other publicly
funded benefits.

Zach Schiller, research director for the Cleveland nonprofit organization, said the agency is taking a broad view of a recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling.

In a lawsuit filed by The Dispatch, the court unanimously decided that state employee home addresses are not public records. “We stress that our decision is narrow and focuses solely on the status of addresses as records,” Justice Alice Robie Resnick wrote.

But a staff attorney for Job and Family Services cited the ruling in denying Policy Matters’ request.

Schiller said Policy Matters is trying to shed light on public expenditures and did not seek information identifying recipients of public benefits.

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