What is Ohio's Drug Price Relief Act? Issue 2 explained

CLEVELAND - With the start of early voting, Ohio voters are beginning the process of deciding the question of Issue 2, the Drug Price Relief Act.

The promise

The ballot question promises to lower the price of prescription drugs by requiring the state to not pay more for pharmaceuticals than the price paid by the Department of Veterans Administration, which typically negotiates a 20-24 percent discount.

But would the measure really lower drug prices for everyone? The ballot wording impacts what the “State of Ohio” pays through Medicaid and other programs.

Who would it impact?

Matt Borges of Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices points out that would cover four million people, 167,000 of them children.

University of Cincinnati Political Science Professor David Niven says “the typical Ohioan's pharmacy bill would not be touched directly by this proposal. It's only those whose healthcare is provided by the state.”

Dale Butland of Ohioans Against Issue 2 said that “means two-thirds of our population is left out because seven million Ohioans don't get drugs through state programs.”

On that point, Niven agrees. "It's hard to see the argument that this trickles to a person with private insurance now that person pays taxes and so in that sense they get a savings when they pay the taxes that help pay for Medicaid," Niven said.

What are the savings?

The exact savings to the state are also not clear.  While supporters put it in the $300-$400 million range, Niven said it’s hard to calculate because no one truly knows what the state is currently paying.

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