Issue 2 Sounds Good, But Isn’t

Issue 2 on the November election ballot in Ohio sounds good. But that is the problem with the so-called “Ohio Drug Price Relief Act.” It only sounds good.

The proposal’s premise is that it would save taxpayers tons of money by requiring that state agencies and those receiving funds from the state spend no more for prescription drugs than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays.

That would affect millions of Ohioans, ranging from those on Medicaid to, possibly, state government retirees.

But how much money would it save? Very little, in all probability. Federal law requires the VA to be given a 24 percent discount on prescription drugs. The state Medicaid program, which pays for about three-fourths of the drugs paid for with state funds, already receives a 23.1 percent discount. State officials already use bulk buying power to bargain for discounts for many other government programs.

Assume for a moment that pharmaceutical companies do grant additional discounts to government buyers. Can anyone but the most naive believe the firms will not increase prices charged to private consumers in order to make up their losses on state contracts?

Issue 2 could mean millions of Ohioans would pay more for drugs.

Back up a moment to the section of this editorial regarding who would be affected by Issue 2. Proponents say government retirees would be covered. But officials of the state’s five retirement programs say they would not. That could set up a costly court battle to settle the question — and that is among the more devious aspects of Issue 2. The fine print requires taxpayers to cover the costs of any legal action involving the program.

Don’t take our word about flaws in Issue 2. Only a handful of organizations have endorsed the plan.

Meanwhile, scores of others oppose it. They include nearly all the state’s organizations for health care professionals as well as groups ranging in diversity from the American Legion to the Columbus branch of the NAACP, from the Interdenominational Ministry Alliance of the Columbus area and ACT Ohio (Affiliated Construction Trades).

Clearly, Issue 2 is bad medicine for Ohioans, who ought to say no to it on Nov. 7.


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