Legislative Update November 2001
Alyson Welsh, Director of Government AffairsFood Licensing Bill (SB 136) Passes Senate & House and Awaits the Governor’s Signature! SB 136 is intended to clean up some of the unintentional licensure problems that arose after the Ohio General Assembly passed a bill to simplify the Retail Food Establishment (RFE) licensure process. Under SB 136, pharmacies that do not sell perishable food items will be exempted from licensure requirements as a RFE.
SB 136, sponsored by Senator Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon), passed the Ohio Senate unanimously on October 2, 2001, with an emergency clause incorporated into the bill. The emergency clause eliminates the typical 90-day waiting period after a bill is signed into law for the issues to be effective. With an emergency clause, the day that Governor Taft signs SB 136 into law it would be effective.
After months of debate in the Ohio Senate, the bill moved quickly through the Ohio House of Representatives where it then passed by a vote of 74 to 15 on October 18. Governor Taft is supportive of this issue and is expected to sign this bill into law very soon.
That should come as a great relief to many of Ohio’s pharmacies that in the past year have received visits from their local health departments for licensure as an RFE.
House Bill 221: Drug Repository Bill Pending
HB 221 will establish a “drug repository program” under the Director of the Ohio Department of Health. This program will be responsible for the collection and redistribution of prescription drugs that are in their original unopened packaging. The bill would also grant a personal income tax credit for a portion of the value of drugs donated under this program.
Rep. Schuring (R-Canton) presented sponsor testimony on this bill before the House Health & Family Services Committee. This issue was brought to his attention when one of his constituents had a family member pass away. When the family members were making the final arrangements, they came upon several bottles of unopened prescription drugs that they felt were too expensive to just throw away, but they couldn’t find anywhere to take these prescriptions.
OPA continues to meet with the sponsor to inform him of our concerns with this bill.
Provider Negotiation Bill Receiving Attention!
If House Bill 325 passes, the current anti-trust laws will be modified and two or more pharmacists (and other providers) will be able to jointly negotiate with insurance companies! Current anti-trust laws do not allow two pharmacists to talk about their separate contracts or utilize that knowledge for negotiation purposes.
Sponsored by State Representative Jim Trakas (R-Cleveland), this bill has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee, and received the first hearing on October 30. Hearings will resume when the Ohio Legislature reconvenes in January 2002.
OPA lobbyists have been meeting with members of the Ohio House of Representatives to educate members on the importance of this legislation. There are two separate negotiation components of the legislation:
1. allows providers to negotiate on non-fee-related matters that can affect patient care;
2. allows providers to negotiate on fee related items.
OPA lobbyists have stressed the lack of negotiating power that pharmacists currently have in the market. OPA is working with the Ohio Patient Access Coalition in support of this bill.
Golden Buckeye Discount Plan Stalled! House Bill 4, sponsored by State Representative John Hagan (R-Alliance), has caught a brief snag in the Ohio Senate. HB 4 will be receiving some needed amendment language and possibly a complete revamping of the entire bill before it receives a vote before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Thanks to many of your calls to Senator Wachtmann’s office and other members of the Ohio Senate, legislators are looking at all the issues at stake. Under current debate in regards to HB 4 is the function of the Pharmacy Benefits Manager who would contract with the state; the true discount likely to be achieved under this proposal; and most importantly the source of the discount -- retail pharmacy!
OPA is working diligently on HB 4 and providing information to the Chairman’s office and other interested parties to ensure that the amended version of the bill addresses the most important concerns, including the financial ramifications of all of Ohio’s pharmacies, while not addressing the true cost of the rising prescription prices. The Senate Health Committee will not be meeting again until after the first of the year. OPA lobbyists will continue to follow HB 4.
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