We here at the Ohio Department of Aging hope that the beginning of our State's 2014 fiscal year is off to a good start for you. The Department of Aging has "hit the ground running" as the proverbial saying goes! Since it takes all of us to ensure that Ohio remains at the forefront of responding to our growing and changing aging population in the most responsive and innovative ways, we want to share with you some of the provisions in the new 2014-2015 biennial state budget that support this vision. As we like to say, "one truth, one vision."
I want to begin by putting our specific aging-related budget items in the broader context of our Jobs Budget 2.0 (Am. Sub. HB 59). As you know, Governor Kasich recently signed the new state budget into law, and it builds upon the job-creating policies in the budget he signed two years ago when Ohio and the nation were just beginning to climb out of the toughest economic downturn since the Great Depression. For example, this budget features:
- A $2.7 billion net tax cut to make Ohio more competitive with other states - and around the world - for jobs and economic growth. This includes a 10 percent personal income tax reduction over three years and a 50 percent small-business tax deduction on the first $250,000 of business income.
- An additional $3 billion in federal, state and local funds to meet Ohio's pressing transportation infrastructure needs - a crucial factor for a growing economy.
The budget also includes significant health transformation initiatives. You can review the Governor's Office of Health Transformation's "Top Ten Transformation Initiatives in the Budget" on the OHT website at www.healthtransformation.ohio.gov under the "Budgets" tab.
At the Department of Aging, we've continued our laser focus on public policies that promote quality, person-centered care and services for our elders wherever they call home while ensuring that businesses can continue to grow in the Buckeye State. The Jobs Budget 2.0 fosters this progress through many related provisions. A few highlights include:
- BENHA to BELTSS: Transforms the Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators (BENHA) into the Board of Executives of Long-Term Services and Supports (BELTSS) with expanded scope and authority to provide education, training, credentialing and licensure opportunities for administrators and others in leadership positions who practice in all Long-Term Services and Supports settings. Transfers fiscal responsibility for this independent Board from the Department of Health to the Department of Aging, co-locating the Board with other long-term services and supports. We will continue to work in close collaboration with the National Association of Long-term Care Administrator Boards to respond to the changing landscape of long-term care and caring. Given the passage of the budget with these provisions, Ohio now leads the nation in pursuing such initiatives.
- Special Focus Facility Program: Caps the length of time a nursing facility may continue to receive Medicaid payments while on the Special Focus Facility list. Institutions must show improvement within one year, and graduate off of the focus list within two years. This provision helps ensure that aging Ohioans receive the best possible care while protecting precious taxpayer money.
- Nursing Home Quality Initiative and TAP: Transfers the Technical Assistance Program (TAP) from the Ohio Department of Health to the Department of Aging to provide streamlined and coordinated resources through an existing technical assistance program within the Office of the State Long-term Care Ombudsman. TAP's transfer is critical to support the Nursing Home Quality Initiative. This initiative will strengthen person-centered care by adding advance care planning to licensure requirements, and increasing quality of service through collaboration of the Department of Aging and nursing facilities participating in Quality Improvement Projects. The Nursing Home Quality Initiative provides a central coordination point for multiple quality improvement efforts while streamlining access to quality improvement technical assistance for nursing homes.
- Enhancing Choice: Authorizes rate and funding increases to continue to expand choices and enhance care for Ohioans who choose facility or home- and community-based services.
- 20 percent increase for Adult Day Services.
- 5 percent increase for PASSPORT Administrative Agency site operations.
- 3 percent increase in Assisted Living rates.
- Increase in Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) for Medicaid-eligible nursing facility residents of $10/month for individuals and $20/month for couples, over the biennium. This increase is the first in 15 years.
As we celebrate the start of the state's new fiscal year, we look forward to continuing to work with you and all Ohioans we serve. We're optimistic about the future of our aging network, our outstanding programs and our agency as together we continue our unwavering devotion and dedication to creating a healthy, vibrant Ohio where Golden Buckeyes can continue to grow, thrive and contribute.
With continued appreciation for all you do,
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