The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act — Issue 2 on the November ballot — has caused plenty of debate.
It would require that the state, including the Ohio Department of Medicaid, pay the same or lower prices for prescription drugs as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — which currently negotiates drug prices at least 24 percent less than other agencies.
Here are views from both sides of the issue:
READ MORE ON ISSUE 2
» Your questions answered about Issue 2
» Ohio’s drug price ballot issue: What’s really going on?
ON THE ‘YES’ SIDE
“From a young age, I have had a strong sense of right and wrong. What these drug companies are doing to our people – charging Americans more than everyone else, demanding that we pay ever-increasing prices for drugs – is wrong.
— Don Elder, Tuskegee Airman and Congressional Gold Medal of Honor recipient.
“The pharmaceutical companies are against it and trying to make it negative… It’s a cost that’s paid for by the taxpayers, and ultimately we’re suffering.”
— Dr. Tanisha Richmond, Dayton-area podiatrist.
— Sister Fran Repka
“This initiated statute is far from perfect, simplistic, and flawed in many respects, and may not be the best approach for addressing high drug costs. But, because of the inaction of state and federal lawmakers, it is all we have. By supporting this issue, we hope to send a message to legislators—the exorbitant cost of medications and the negative impact those costs have on patients must be addressed… This does not address the high price of prescription medications for all Ohioans. Congress and the General Assembly need to address these high prices as our patients are suffering.”
— Dr. Donald Mack, president, the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians.
“When people need life-saving medicine and they can’t afford it then something is wrong with the system and something needs to change… This is a big step on in the right direction.”
— Jocelyn Bucaro, chair, Butler County Democratic Party.
“For me it was personal. My aunt was challenged with not being able to pay for her medication… I want folks to understand that this isn’t going to fix everything. It’s not going to be a panacea. It’s about making sure that we are examining the entire landscape. This might not be the complete answer to the problem, but it will send a message.”
— Tracy Jones, petitioner for Issue 2, Midwest regional director and national director of advocacy campaigns for AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“If you’re waiting for the federal government to fix this problem I’d encourage you, don’t hold your breath. This is now up to the states. This is an opportunity for the citizens of Ohio to take the power into their own hands. If you want lower drug prices you have to vote yes and it’s the drug companies that want you to vote no.”
— Matt Borges, former GOP state party chair and a spokesman for the ballot issue campaign.
— Wendell Young, Cincinnati City Council
“The big drug companies are spending millions of dollars to protect their excessive profits and Ohioans like you and me are footing the bill. We can’t trust them to tell the truth. Don’t be misled – Yes on Issue 2 does not change anything about the VA and will not hurt our veterans. Veterans like us across the state of Ohio know it's time to take a stand and vote Yes on Issue 2 in November.”
— Roger Tackett, former Clark County Commissioner and Vietnam Purple Heart recipient.
“Ohioans have the opportunity this year to take on the greed of the drug companies and significantly lower the cost of prescription drugs.”
— Bernie Sanders, Independent Senator from Vermont
ON THE ‘NO’ SIDE
“It's unworkable because we literally cannot find out what those lowest (VA) prices are. But even if we could, and we were able to do it, there's no guarantee that the pharmaceutical companies are going to give (Medicaid) those lower prices. It doesn't force them to sell it at that lower price… if the pharmaceutical companies decide they aren't going to lower their costs, then the Medicaid director would be forced to pay pharmacies less. It would be a straight up rate cut to pharmacies.”
— John McCarthy, former Ohio Medicaid director under Gov. John Kasich.
“It would only exacerbate the problem,” of pharmacies taking a loss on Medicaid prescriptions.
— Nnodum Iheme, owner of Zik’s Family Pharmacy in Dayton.
— Erv Yoder, a member of the Ohio VFW and former E4 specialist in the U.S. Army, calls on Ohioans to protect veterans this November.
"As an organization, we have spent years trying to address and change an outdated, opaque drug pricing model that incentivizes members of the medication supply chain to drive up the cost of prescription drugs. Through our work, we know there is a critical and immediate need to implement responsible solutions to lower drug costs – unfortunately, this initiated statute not only misses the mark; but it actually could end up raising drug prices.”
— Ernest Boyd, Ohio Pharmacists Association executive director.
“Nothing about how the language is set up says how much the pharmacy is going to buy the medicine for, nor does it say anything about what the manufacturer has to sell it for.”
— Maureen Corcoran, former Ohio Medicaid director under Gov. Ted Strickland.
“The initiative doesn't apply to two-thirds of Ohioans, and arguably it won't do much better, if at all, for Medicaid or (the Ohio AIDS Drug Assistance Program), and Medicaid is by far the largest program that will be impacted. And second, the VA price is unknowable. We know what the statutory discount is for VA drugs, but the VA then negotiates supplemental rebates. So if we don't, in fact, know what the target is, then there is no way that we as a state can meet the target.”
— Daphne Kackloudis, chief public policy and government affairs officer for Equitas, formerly the AIDS Resource Center.
“The Chamber believes this proposal is poorly written, and due to an unprecedented litigation provision that would give the sponsors of the initiative the right to intervene, could likely result in lengthy and costly litigation which the state of Ohio would be required to defend and the taxpayers would be required to fund, no matter the cost.”
— Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
— Dr. Geraldine Urse
“In particular for children’s health, the proposal does not address the question of access for children’s medicines in the Medicaid program. The VA system is designed to serve a military veteran population. The VA’s narrow drug formulary would not include specialty drugs for children and infants. Because Issue 2 lacks any operational guidelines regarding how drugs not on the VA formulary are to be handled, whether the state could continue to purchase those life-saving drugs — and at what price — are open to question.”
— The Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics.
“It gives the four sponsors, three of whom work for (the AIDS Healthcare Foundation), an unprecedented right that’s never been in Ohio law before to hire their own lawyers and to intervene in any legal challenge that may be filed against this law and requires the taxpayers of the state to pay their attorney fees without limit and without a cap. This could get extremely expensive.”
— Dale Butland, spokesman for opponents, Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue.