On Nov. 7, Ohioans will vote on the Ohioans Against the Deceptive RX Ballot Issue, Issue 2. Issue 2 requires the state to purchase prescription drugs at prices no greater than what the VA pays. Examples of the state entities which would be affected include Medicaid, state employees, and state departments providing health care. Issue 2 would not apply to anyone with Medicare or private insurance.
Issue 2 sounds good. The proponents say it will save Ohio taxpayers $400 million a year. The opponents say the issue may raise drug prices for veterans, people with insurance, and the uninsured.
The Office of Budget and Management (OBM) completed an analysis of the estimated expenditure of public funds with the passage of Issue 2. The OBM reported it cannot estimate the change in expenditures and suggested Issue 2 may cause problems. The VA is not required to release the prices of drugs they purchase, making it difficult for Ohio to negotiate the same price. Issue 2 requires an equal price only for those medications the VA purchases. The VA serves mostly older males, while Medicaid’s largest population is children. The report notes that the manufacturers’ responses to Issue 2 are unknown. It is postulated that the companies would recoup their losses by raising the price of drugs for those with insurance and the VA.
I urge you to vote no on Issue 2. Issue 2 neither provides direction for the state to implement this mandate nor obligates drug manufacturers to change their pricing practices. Let’s not pass a law that “sounds good” but will do nothing but create confusion within the state and raise prices for all.