State Budget Message From Director Stephanie M. Loucka


Celebrating our accomplishments and moving forward with innovation

Dear partners and stakeholders:

Can you believe it’s February already? By now, all that great technology you and your family got for the holidays – your tablets, smartphones and video games – have probably lost their “newness” and become part of your daily routine. It amazes me sometimes how quickly innovation can become commonplace, but that’s because innovation must always be moving forward.

For the past six years, one of the core guiding principles at the Ohio Department of Aging has been innovation. We know that we cannot meet the needs of our growing and changing aging population by simply doing the same things better. We must embrace change and build on our successes, and we have been very fortunate to have a governor and general assembly who support these approaches and, through three biennial budgets and mid-biennium review processes, have given us many tools and opportunities to move the aging network forward.

Some of our accomplishments during this administration include:

  • Adding consumer direction options in PASSPORT statewide;
  • Launching the Hospital Exemption Notification System to reduce administrative time and expense for hospital discharges into nursing homes;
  • Designing and implementing an array of quality improvement projects to help Ohio’s nursing homes embrace culture change and person-centered care;
  • Expanding the Ohio Long-Term Care Consumer Guide to include more care settings for a broader audience of consumers;
  • Certification of all 12 area agencies on aging as Aging and Disability Resource Networks;
  • Implementing the caregiver stress assessment for individuals seeking and receiving caregiver support services;
  • Statewide expansion of the Reducing Disabilities in Alzheimer’s Disease program;
  • Launching the STEADY U Ohio initiative to raise awareness of the epidemic of older adult falls, expand evidence-based falls prevention training and educate individuals, caregivers, communities, businesses and service providers on their roles in preventing falls;
  • Inclusion of the Senior Community Service Employment Program in Ohio’s Integrated Workforce Plan; and
  • Automating the provider certification process.

Earlier this week, Governor Kasich unveiled his fourth Executive Budget proposal, which continues to build on conservative, responsible budgeting strategies while emphasizing technology and innovation as key to bolstering our economy for future generations and supporting those most in need. The governor has challenged those of us in his cabinet to take new, more aggressive steps to bring innovation to our agencies’ programs.

Some of those same technologies that will give Ohio a competitive advantage are also being driven by, or designed to support, the unique needs and preferences of an aging population. Data analytics, home automation, sensor technologies, robotics and even self-driving cars, all have important applications in not only keeping our elders free from harm, but also improving health outcomes and giving them opportunities to grow, thrive and contribute.

We live in a diverse state with 11.7 million people. Our government provides services from education to health care, from parks to prisons and many other areas. In some cases, the state provides those services directly, but more than 85 cents of every dollar in the state budget is passed directly to communities. That’s because some of our biggest statewide problems can only be solved at the local level (e.g., infant mortality, drug abuse, mental health and student achievement). While the state provides new tools and resources to help communities address those challenges, it takes local leadership and committed individuals to make these resources work for each community. We’ve long known this through our experiences with Ohio’s aging network.

The Executive Budget proposal introduces new approaches to serving, supporting and harnessing the power of our elders. The Department of Aging’s funding is proposed to continue at current levels. This positions us well to use strategic thinking and planning to do more with the resources we have.

A few of the highlights in the Executive Budget for the Department of Aging include:

  • Working with the Ohio Department of Medicaid to redesign rates and potentially redefine settings for the Assisted Living waiver, as well as design the future of long-term care in Ohio;
  • Implementing changes to the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman to clarify the role of the ombudsman in investigations, enhance consumer privacy, and bring the state into compliance with newly passed federal regulations; and
  • Continuing our focus on evidence-based or evidence-informed programs to improve the lives and health outcomes of older Ohioans.

I am excited to continue the great work we have done during this administration to create a better Ohio not only for our elders, but for many future generations of Ohioans. Innovation and change can be scary, but I know we will succeed by working together. I invite you to contact my office if you have questions about this Executive Budget. Likewise, please contact us with your ideas for how we can continue to innovate, to challenge ageist views and to offer valuable opportunities so that all of our citizens can engage with their communities in meaningful ways.


Stephanie M. Loucka
Director, Ohio Department of Aging

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