Ohio Issue 2 is almost identical to failed California proposition -- but here's the main difference

Published: Aug. 7, 2017 at 3:01 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2017 at 4:43 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - When Ohio voters decide on Issue 2, the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, they can look at California's failed Proposition 61 and see a lot of similarities -- but the biggest difference is Ohio will not exempt Medicaid-managed care plans.

Here is the wording of California Prop 61, voted on in November of 2016:

Prohibits state from buying any prescription drug from a drug manufacturer at price over lowest price paid for the drug by United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Exempts managed care programs funded through Medi–Cal. Fiscal Impact: Potential for state savings of an unknown amount depending on (1) how the measure's implementation challenges are addressed and (2) the responses of drug manufacturers regarding the provision and pricing of their drugs.

Here is the wording of the original "Ohio Chapter 194: Drug Price Relief" which will be on the November, 2017 ballot:

The People of the State of Ohio hereby declare the following purposes and intent in enacting this Act:

(1) To enable the State of Ohio to pay the same prices for prescription drugs as the prices paid by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, thus rectifying the imbalance among government payers.

Both measures say the state can only enter into contracts with prescription drug companies if the cost of the drug is at the same level of the VA, which is among the lowest prices that the Federal Government is able to get.

Here's a key difference between the two ballot measures: Prop 61 would have exempted Medicaid-managed care plans for its drug price regulations. The Ohio initiative would not.

In California, Proposition 61 failed 54 percent to 46 percent.

According to the LA Times, the groups that were supporting the measure spent $19 million trying to get it passed, and drug companies spent $109 million to get it defeated.

The total impact of Issue 2 is unknown. Some argue that if the state is allowed to buy all of its drugs a the reduced rate for programs like Medicaid, the drug companies will pass those cost on to the average consumer with private insurance.

The other side of the argument is that Ohio could save millions in taxpayer dollars if it's able to negotiate much lower prices for the medication it gives out to those on state run medical plans.

Another similarity between the two ballot measures is who is supporting them and who's against them. Perhaps the biggest name to support the issues is former Presidential Candidate and US Senator Bernie Sanders.

When you look at the list of those who don't support the issues they are largely identical. Large groups of veteran groups and medical professionals. For example the Ohio State Medical Association and the California Medical Association. Here is an ad from the Ohio group trying to get it defeated called Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue:

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