Understanding both sides of Issue 2 in Ohio - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Understanding both sides of Issue 2 in Ohio

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

EDITOR'S NOTE: Please note that the below story concerned a statewide issue that was on the ballot in 2017

In just a couple of months, Ohio voters will decide if the state will adopt Issue 2, which would require state agencies, including the Ohio Department of Medicaid, to pay the same for prescriptions as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which can negotiate discounts up to 24%.

A yes vote would also allow the initiative's sponsors to intervene, at the taxpayer's expense, in any legal challenges filed against the initiative after the election.

"The drug companies that are opposing this, because they want to protect their profit, have had a stranglehold on our state legislature," said Dennis Willard with Yes on Issue 2.

According to opponents of Issue 2, there is no way of knowing what the VA pays for drugs because it doesn't disclose purchase agreements.  However, they claim state agencies are already able to negotiate very similar prices.

"We are getting a 23% discount, VA gets a 24%.  We get a 23%.  Plus, there are these additional negotiated discounts.  So, the bottom line is, what we are paying for the vast majority of drugs we buy is pretty close to the VA price," said Dale Butland

Issue 2 would only apply to drugs purchased by the state, not to drugs purchased by people using private insurance.  Opponents think that it could be harmful to pharmacies and could create an access problem.  Supporters of Issue 2 believe it could save the state $400 million dollars a year.

"Ohio could be the first in the country to do this," said Willard.

Last year, California voters defeated a very similar ballot issue, which was primarily supported by the same group supporting the issue in Ohio, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. 

Currently, more than 60 organizations oppose Issue 2 in Ohio.  

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