Ohio Issue 2, drug price measure, has voters confused

Ohio Issue 2, drug price measure, has voters confused (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The prescription drug question on the November ballot may be the most expensive issue race in Ohio history.

Supporters and opponents are pouring in millions of dollars for ads about State Issue 2.

Backers call it the “Drug Price Relief Act”. Critics call it the “Deceptive Ballot Issue.” Voters call it “confusing.”

If you watch television, you can't avoid the ads. If you check your mail, you can't avoid the flyers. But if you’re like lots of Ohio voters, you're completely baffled.

“I have no idea what the issue really is,” said Jim Slusser of Mason.

“Oh I’ve seen lots of ads, on TV, online. Everywhere… it's really confusing,” said Blake Racer of Columbia-Tusculum.

Ohio Issue 2 is a constitutional amendment, which seems simple. The language requires state agencies to pay no more for prescription drugs than the does the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

Backers say that will save customers money, but it' s not that easy. The amendment applies only to state programs like Medicaid, which is a minority of Ohio voters and residents.

If you have private insurance through your work, or if you have Medicare, one expert says what you pay for drugs would not be affected at all, or your costs might actually go up because if drug companies have to charge less to some then they'd likely charge more to others.

“So if you're decreasing prices for one group, how do you maintain your profit?” said Professor Michael Doherty of UC's College of Pharmacy. “They would increase the costs to those who are not affected.”

Doherty says those in-state programs may not see big savings, if any, due to low co-pays.

“In most cases they probably won't see any change, because of how their plans or structured or what their out of payment is,” said Doherty.

Another issue would be tying prices to what the VA pays is potentially problematic because while the VA does get a federally mandated discount, according to Doherty: “There's no list I can go to which says what the VA prices are.”

So, as with all campaigns, ads and flyers do not tell the full story and figuring out that story is a challenge.

“I see one of them. I think that sounds good. I see the other and I think that sounds okay. I have no clue how to vote, and I keep telling myself I need to look into it,” said Blake Racer.

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