We just found out that Shannon Jones, chair of the Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee, is refusing to hear testimony on confirmation hearings for Rick Hodges, John Kasich’s unqualified appointee for director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Kasich made the announcement back in August and we quickly pointed out that Hodges, the former head of the Ohio Turnpike, was statutorily unqualified for the position.  Ohio law requires the director be a medical doctor or have extensive public health experience.  Hodges has neither.  He then tried to cover for the lack of experience by updating his LinkedIn profile to include the word “healthcare.”

This week the Kasich Administration effectively admitted to Hodges shortcoming by announcing they had created a new position at the Department of Health for an actual medical professional to help out Hodges.  As Alan Johnson points out, the “position was created to backstop Hodges, a former Republican state lawmaker who has managerial but no significant medical experience.”   The new medical director, Dr. Mary DiOrio, and Hodges “will be paid a total of $280,000, nearly twice as much as Dr. Ted Wymyslo, who resigned as health director this year.”  Because… government efficiency!  Or something.

And it gets worse.

According to documents obtained by Plunderbund, Shannon Jones is now refusing to allow testimony at Hodges’ confirmation hearing tomorrow.

“Chair Jones is not entertaining testimony for the appointment of Director Hodges,” writes Jones’ legislative aide in response to Sue Allen, a nurse from Springfield who wanted to testify. “However, I have shared your sentiments with Chair Jones. Please feel free to share your testimony with the other members of the committee.”

We’ve included Ms. Allen’s letter below.  But she is not the only one who wanted to testify.  Jessie Hill, a Case Western law professor, wrote to the committee to explain the legal liability Ohio could face by putting someone who is not qualified in the job.  And Dr. Craig Strafford, an OBGYN and former state medical board member, wrote to explain that “Richard Hodges does not meet the statutory requirements to serve as Director of the Ohio Department of Health.”  We’ve included letters from Strafford and Hill below as well.

At the end of the day, state law requires the director of the Ohio Department of Health be a medical professional.  Hodges is not.  And whether or not Kasich creates a new position to provide a “backstop” and cover for Hodges inexperience, Kasich’s appointment goes against the requirements set forth in Ohio law.

It’s going to be a long four years.

Here are the PDFs of Hill’s Testimony and Strafford’s Testimony.  And below is Sue Allen’s email:

Chairwoman Jones, Ranking Minority Member Cafaro, and Members of the Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee,

My name is Sue Allen, I am a registered nurse in Springfield, and I am writing to you today to express my concerns about the Governor’s nomination of Richard Hodges as the Director of the Ohio Department of Health.I am submitting written testimony, as I understand “in person” testimony is not being permitted.

As a health care professional I understand the complexity of health care, which is why having someone who is not a doctor leading the Department of Health gives me great concern. I understand that he will be advised by a medical team, but the legal authority and the final decision are up to Mr. Hodges. What happens when the medical team disagrees, or a decision has to be made on the spot without the time to extensively brief Mr. Hodges on the background information? It is Mr. Hodges that will make the decision, the buck stops with him.

Our state has complicated and challenging health issues to address; from our miserable infant mortality rate, to the rising levels of drug abuse, water safety issues (especially important to our Tremont City landfill problem in Clark County) and so much more. Ohioans deserve a leader at the Ohio Department of Health who has the education, experience, and expertise to rise to these challenges and make Ohio a health care leader. Mr. Hodges does not fit that bill. I urge the committee to think long and hard about our vision for the health and well-being of Ohioans before casting a vote on the nomination of Richard Hodges as our new Director of Health.



  • anastasjoy

    But Ed FitzGerald didn’t have a drivers license and we can’t have a governor who breaks the law! Unless his name is John Kasich apparently. Where oh where are the repeated stories about this on the front page of the Disgrace and the Plainly Republican? I guess it’s Ok to break the law when it will have a real impact on the lives of Ohioans.

  • Susan Riley

    Agreed. Then there’s the issue of money. For a Republican to say he wants a smaller, leaner government to then hire a second person to assist the first – to do the job of one, at twice the cost, is at best ingenuous.

  • sufferingsuccatash

    This is the functional equivalent of fast tracking—a junta styled approach to governance; quick, illegal, and done without the means to offer criticism. Generally this type of institutional process is reserved for covert trade agreements (TTP, GATT, TTIP) and bank bailout legislation. Judging from the history of those political initiatives, the worst is yet to come.

  • Think.

    Fast-tracking also depletes resources from critics, so there’s not enough time and money to keep up with every issue- kind of like those whack-a-mole arcade games.
    Kasich’s post-election three-ring circus has just begun…

  • dmoore2222

    Throw in millions of dollars of “security improvements” to this chump’ss private residence and the cush offices of JobsOhio.

  • dmoore2222

    Well. This must be what Ohioans want. Ooops. I mean 60 some percent of the 38% of the electorate that voted anyway. We have 62% of voters who were either too disenchanted or too lazy to vote. Conditions under which only a chump like Kasich could win.

  • dmoore2222

    A perfect example of how the Dispatch lacks the moral authority after having endorsed this creep.

  • Paula Garfield

    Just another example of the Columbus Disgrace endorsing without a conscience

  • dman

    Is there some why to force Hodges out because they are not following the law? How would that be done?

    Other illegal appointments were forced out like Kvamme.

  • Stephen Beard

    We don’t need no medical professionals running our health policies because freedom. Bitches!

  • wetsu

    Money is indeed the issue in a number of ways. One of the unintended consequences of term limits is when these knuckleheads like Wachtman, etc who are term-limited side with the governor in order to secure appointments after their term is up. They go with goofy selections like this so as not to piss off the hot tempered Kasich. While we celebrate certain people being shown the door many find a way around it so they can live off of us longer.

  • Retrofuturistic

    Shannon Jones is a Kasich collaborator all the way….

  • Spitfiremk1

    Proof that it doesn’t take s village, it only takes 60%X38% to elect a snake-oil salesman. And who better to see to the health of our state than Dr. John’s good colligue in the profession, Dr. Rick Hodges. Who better to tell us what we need? “It’ good for all maladies and for man or beast (and, by the way, they are BOTH.)

  • Spitfiremk1

    Well, Hodges has always had his hand out for more every time I’ve seen him—and Wachtman STILL belongs in a zoo!!!

  • Red Rover

    I’m wondering the same thing.

    Joseph (or anyone else), do you know who would have legal standing to file suit against the administration for this?

  • Ronald W. Wiech

    Let’s not forget who sponsored senate bill 5 in 2011. Senator Shannon Jones did. Why would we expect Senator Jones to be open minded enough to listen to testimony regarding a Kasich appointment to the Department of Health?

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