Ohio Ballot Issue 2 (follow-up)

                                                                   – Editorial –

I’m still quite sure I do NOT have a complete handle on Ohio’s upcoming Ballot Issue 2, the “Ohio Drug Price Relief Act”.  There is so much misinformation and lobbying, it’s always difficult to know what’s really going on, and this issue, with so many dollars at stake, is no different.

As I mentioned before, on its face, if passed Issue 2 would prevent the State of Ohio – including state run programs such as Medicaid, the state employee health plans, and others – from paying more for prescription drugs than what is paid by the U.S. Veterans Administration.  This sounds pretty simple, and like a good deal for Ohio’s budget and therefore the Ohio taxpayer.  And in the short-run, I think this is true.  However, as was also said before, what seemed to be missing from the argument was an explanation of the reasons for those who are opposed to Issue 2.  Recently, more such explanations have come out, and so I thought it was only right to follow up my initial request for information with a sharing of what explanations had come to light.

Some of the prior groups that were mentioned as being opposed were Veterans organizations.  Since last month, I have read more about their concern that if more folks are tied to the ‘good deal’ the VA is receiving, one way to increase prices and make up for lost revenue for those who are new to the ‘good deal’ is to raise prices for everyone who is receiving the ‘good deal’.  This would mean the VA.  Okay, makes sense.

Another contingent opposed to Issue 2 were countless business organizations.  This too makes sense on a couple of different levels.  First, most businesses support competitive markets as opposed to anything that promotes or legislates artificial prices for a product.  Setting artificial prices runs counter to their beliefs while also opening the doors for price fixing in any other industry or sector of the economy.  By opposing Issue 2, this continues to allow the markets to operate as they naturally would.  Secondly, this group employs and insures many of the 7 million Ohioans who are covered on private insurance plans.  The cost shifting that would almost certainly occur from fixing prices for the state would ultimately come back to these employers in the way of higher costs.

But no matter what your position or concerns might be around price fixing or cost shifting, the most widely held reason for opposing Issue 2 lies in an unprecedented provision within the bill that would give sponsors of Issue 2 the right to intervene in the application of the law, and any resulting litigation would then have to be defended and paid for by the state.  Giving an organization legal influence with a law and then providing legal cover of any resulting action, no matter the cost, is, as mentioned before, unprecedented.  For this reason, as well as a lack of clarity on how the initiative would be implemented, many have lined up in opposition to the issue.

While I know there are probably other reasons for opposing the law that aren’t mentioned here, I’m sure there are also reasons for supporting the law which have also not been fully explained.  Clearly, prescription costs for all Ohioans is a major concern, whether VA, state governments, or private insurers and citizens are footing the bill.  But now knowing what we know, it’s our opinion that we’re in need of comprehensive reform when it comes to paying for our healthcare, not just targeted initiatives that imbalance the playing field and leave the state exposed to additional, and potentially very costly, financial risks.

#TAHbenefits, #issue2, #insurance, #health