State Issue 2 fails big; confusion blamed

11:50 p.m Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 Ohio

Ohio voters soundly rejected Issue 2 on Tuesday.

With 100 percent of the vote in, the prescription drug measure failed 79 percent to 21 percent. 

The Associated Press called Issue 2 as failing shortly before 8:30 p.m. and supporters then conceded at a Columbus watch party. 

“Make no mistake, although this particular campaign did not win tonight, it is just the beginning of an awareness in Ohio about what huge drug companies are doing to our people,” Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices said in a statement. “This system we have for drug pricing in America has got to give, and sooner rather than later, one state will successfully stand up to big drug companies and Ohio will wish it could have been the first.” 

Curt Steiner, campaign manager for the opposition, said voters recognized that Issue 2 would be unworkable and wouldn’t do what it promised. 

“Ohio voters delivered a loud and clear message that Issue 2 was a deceptive and seriously flawed proposal. A large majority of Ohio voters concluded Issue 2 wouldn’t have solved any problems; it would have made things worse,” Steiner said. “Adoption of Issue 2 would have increased bureaucracy and raised costs for Ohio Medicaid and other state agencies that provide prescription drugs to Ohioans. And passage would have led to health care cost increases for the two thirds of Ohioans who are not covered by state programs—including military veterans using VA benefits, those on Medicare and families with private or employer-based insurance.”

For months, Ohioans have been flooded with ads about State Issue 2 and prescription drug prices. 

Supporters and proponents raised a combined $73 million as of mid-October, making this the most expensive ballot issue in Ohio history. 

Most of the spending came from the No campaign -- $57 million as of the last campaign finance filing -- which was completely funded by drug manufacturers through the trade group PhRMA. 

Many voters still expressed confusion about the prescription drug price ballot issue right up until Election Day and that likely played a role in its apparent defeat. The general wisdom among political scientists is that if an issue is too confusing, voters reject it.

“First of all the bill was very confusing,” said Marc Sweeney Dean of school of pharmacy at Cedarville University. There were also dozens of groups representing medical professionals opposed to the issue, which likely influenced a lot of people, he said. 

“With all the expert opinion around the state... everyone was not supportive of the bill. There were a lot of healthcare professionals that were opposed,” Sweeney said. 

He’s an advocate for lowering drug prices and hopes a solution can be developed within Ohio. 

Issue 2 would require the State of Ohio to pay no more for prescription drugs than the price paid by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

It also gives standing to four petitioners to intervene in any legal challenge of the law, with the state responsible for “reasonable” attorney fees and other expenses, according to the language on ballot.

Here’s a look at some of our earlier coverage on Issue 2:

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