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New push to lower prescription drug prices in Statehouse

Prescription drugs pills in bottle Ben 1.jpg

Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected Issue 2 to lower prescription drug prices last fall but there's a new bill in the Statehouse trying something similar.

Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected Issue 2 to lower prescription drug prices last fall but there's a new bill in the Statehouse trying something similar.

Supporters of the legislation said the new proposal would keep some of the popular parts of Issue 2 while getting rid of the unpopular parts which caused the initiative to fail.

"When in doubt, you vote 'no'," said Sen. Charleta Tavares, D - Columbus, the sponsor of the bill. "I heard from a lot of my constituents that are confused which way to vote."

Issue 2 would have required the State of Ohio to buy prescription drugs at the same price as the VA. Veterans legally must get a discount. Issue 2 only applied to people on a state health care plan like Medicaid. Tavares' bill would extend that rule for all insurance plans in Ohio.

"Every one of us have a stake in this," she said. "Now every one of us can get our prescription drugs at a lower price."

People who campaigned against Issue 2 said they haven't had a chance to read the details of the bill yet. The bill has not officially been introduced. Some of them questioned how a plan like this would be enforced or whether it would hold up in court.

Supporters said it would give people leverage with pharmaceutical companies to lower prices.

"It gives them some leverage to say, 'look, Ohio law says that I can only pay this amount' and therefore I think they're going to be able to get lower prices," said Steve Wagner with UHCAN Ohio.

Opponents of Issue 2 focused on how taxpayers would be on the hook for any legal fees for the California non-profit behind the ballot initiative. Tavares said that wouldn't be a problem in her bill. The Ohio Attorney General would handle lawsuits since it would be a state law.

How much the plan could drop prices is unclear.

"That's the big unknown," Tavares said. "There isn't transparency (with prices) and that's the other issue we're trying to address."


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