The November 7 election has two Ohio issues proposed and Issue 2, or the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, has been a hot topic since its introduction to the ballot. Many experts have reviewed the ballot and offer wildly differing opinions on how it will affect prescription-drug users. The ballot is an initiative, as opposed to a constitutional amendment, and only requires a simple majority to pass. Therefore, it is important to have a clear understanding of what is on it and what that means, especially for those who are retired or close to retiring and currently using or considering Medicare for prescription drugs.
The proposal is aimed to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for as many as 4 million Ohioans, but at what cost? Many believe Issue 2 has the potential to increase savings for many Ohioans but has several hurdles to overcome. Others believe it will likely backfire, causing shortages and increased prices. Here is what you need to know about Issue 2 before going to the polls on November 7.
Issue 2 is a State Issue
If approved, Issue 2 would require Medicaid (a state-run program), state retirement systems, state employees, prisons and other state run systems to pay no more for prescription drugs than is paid for by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which receives significant discounts-as much as 24 percent.
Pharmaceutical Companies Oppose the Ballot
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation of Los Angeles is the primary backer of the ballot and the opposition is funded primarily by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The opposition states they will be required to increase drug prices on everyone if the issue is passed.
The Issue Could Increase Costs to Taxpayers
If the ballot passes, the initiative’s sponsors would be able to intervene in any legal challenges filed, at the taxpayer’s expense.
Issue 2 Does Not Apply to Medicare
Medicare is a federal program and therefore does not apply to Issue 2. However, if Issue 2 does pass, seniors who rely on Medicare for prescription medication could see increases in the cost of their medication.
Issue 2 poses many concerns, primarily that prices will increase and research and development will decrease. Many warn that a cap on drug prices could reduce the incentive for drug companies to invest in the latter. What most everyone can agree on is the reason Issue 2 was introduced to the ballot in the first place: frustration with current drug prices. Whether or not Issue 2 secures enough votes to pass the ballot, that concern will remain.
Our article, “9 Ways to Save on Your Prescription Costs,” offers ways to help you save on your current prescription costs. For more questions regarding Medicare coverage, contact one of our advisors or visit our website.