One of the leading figures in the state’s battle against the deadly opioid crisis is stepping down. The head of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, who’s leaving six months before the end of the term of her boss, Gov. John Kasich.
Tracy Plouck was Medicaid director under Govs. Bob Taft and Ted Strickland. Kasich hired her to head the Department of Mental Health, which merged with Addiction Services in 2013. “We’re proud of the fact that we’ve not had to do any layoffs resulting from this. But every dollar that we save, we’re going to put into services,” Plouck said at the time.
Plouck helped push for Medicaid expansion. And as the opioid crisis escalated, Plouck spoke out for treatment and prevention, even as some called on the Kasich administration to declare an emergency. “I feel very strongly that we have been treating this like an emergency for the last six years,” Plouck said last fall.
Plouck helped oversee a challenging move of behavioral health services into Medicaid managed care on July 1. She leaves for a private sector opportunity and will be replaced by the agency’s medical director Dr. Mark Hurst.