Everyone agrees that U.S. drug prices are too high. So on the surface Ohio Issue 2, the Drug Price Standards Initiative, sounds like a good solution to the problem. After all, drugs offered by the VA are typically discounted at 24 percent of the non-federal average manufacturer’s price. So, what’s not to like?
Our Issues with Issue 2
First, it’s important to recognize that the majority of Ohioans do not get their drugs through state plans, but rather through employer-provided or other private insurance plans. If this issue passes, millions of Ohio citizens and employers will likely pay more for drugs, not less, because pharmaceutical companies will need a way to recoup their lost profits.
Second, the ballot language assumes that all negotiated drug prices paid by the VA are publicly known, which is not true. Some pricing is not published, due to contractual agreements. So, how could this law be enforced?
Third, Issue 2 assumes that VA pricing is better than drug discounts already negotiated by the state. If the Issue passes, it could nullify existing negotiated pricing and potentially increase Ohio’s costs for some drugs. Also, it is worth noting that one way the VA controls costs is by limiting access to some drugs. Fewer drug options could be another unwelcome side effect of this proposed legislation.
Fourth and finally, if Issue 2 becomes law, according to the ballot language taxpayers must pay the ballot petitioners’ “reasonable attorney fees and other expenses,” win or lose, anytime the law is challenged in court.
Remember to Vote
If you live in Ohio, please educate yourself about this important ballot item. Then, whatever you decide about Issue 2, vote on November 7, 2017. Americans have fought and died to give us each the opportunity to participate in our government.