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July Legislative Update

Kelly Vyzral, Director of Govenment Affairs

OPA/OSHP Pharmacy Legislative Day and Health Screening
The 2005 OPA/OSHP Pharmacy Legislative Day and Health Screening has been scheduled for Wednesday, September 21, at the Riffe Center in downtown Columbus. We will be offering blood glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, and bone density testing screenings to the members of the legislature, their staff, and the general public from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. This will be a great opportunity to educate Ohio lawmakers and the public about the practice of pharmacy, and where it's going. In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to earn 0.45 CEUs, including one hour of Ohio jurisprudence. A legislative reception will follow from 5:00-7:00 p.m. This reception provides a perfect opportunity to meet your legislator, as well as the legislative leaders of the Ohio House and Senate, and talk to them personally about issues that affect your livelihood and the practice of pharmacy in Ohio. Meeting brochures with registration information have been mailed. You may also register online at www.ohiopharmacists.org.


Sub. HB 66: Final Budget Bill Update
The biennial budget for 2005-2006 is almost complete. On June 1, 2005, Sub. HB 66 was passed out of the Senate by a 19-13 vote. Because the House refused to agree to the changes the Senate made to the legislation, the bill was sent to Conference Committee. The Conference Committee met to hash out the over 500 points of difference between the House and Senate versions of the budget. The Conference Committee was made up of three members of the Ohio House: House Finance Chairman Charles Calvert (R-Medina), Rep. Tom Raga (R-Mason) and Rep. Dale Miller (D-Cleveland); and three members of the Ohio Senate: Senate Finance Chairman John Carey (R-Wellston), Sen. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) and Sen. Tom Roberts (D-Dayton). The compromise version of the budget was voted on by the full House and Senate on Tuesday, June 21, 2005. The bill now awaits the Governor's signature.

The following items were part of the final budget as approved by the legislature.

  • Phases in a gross receipts tax, or CAT, over five years while phasing out the corporation franchise tax over the same period of time.
  • Phases out all components of the tangible personal property tax over four years.
  • Decreases the state sales tax rate from 6% to 5.5% beginning July 1, 2005.
  • Reduces reimbursement for product cost from WAC + 9% to WAC + 7%.
  • Requires ODJFS (Ohio Department of Job and Family Services) to implement a Medicaid co-payment program for dental and vision services, emergency room visits for non-emergency reasons and the following co-pays on prescription drugs:
    $3 for non-formulary
    $2 for brand drugs on formulary
    $0 for generics

  • Adds Right of Refusal language which will allow pharmacists the right to refuse service to patients who refuse to pay the co-pay after the first time, if this is the normal course of business with cash paying customers and third party payers.
  • Eliminates the exemption for mental health, HIV/AIDS and physician-administered drugs from the supplemental drug rebate program.
  • Requires ODJFS to establish a MAC program and to update the drugs included in the program, as well as the price paid to pharmacies on a weekly basis.
  • Permits ODJFS to establish an e-prescribing system for the top 10 hospital-based providers writing the greatest number of prescriptions.
  • Adds a pharmacist to the ODJFS Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committee.
  • Authorizes ODJFS to enter into a multi-state prescription drug purchasing program.
  • Requires a study of the feasibility of a consolidated intrastate prescription drug purchasing program.

    While we were greatly encouraged by the addition of the weekly price updates for generic and brand drugs, as well as the Right of Refusal language for unpaid co-pays, the Conference Committee cut a provision added by the Senate that would have allowed ODJFS to implement a step-therapy program. Patient advocates, providers groups, and pharmaceutical manufacturers lobbied the legislature for removal of the language, saying that a step-therapy program would keep patients from getting the drugs they need. The drug manufacturers know the effect pharmacists would have on their bottom line, as well as the Medicaid budget, if you were able to promote lesser expensive generics or over-the-counter medications to your patients. We, in turn, reminded them that for every 1% switch to generics, Medicaid would save $19 million. They could easily have savings of over $100 million, more than double what they will get from cutting our reimbursement by 2%.

    We have appealed to the Governor to use his authority to stop the unfair pharmacy reimbursement cut.

    If you have any questions or comments about the issues mentioned in this article, please contact Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs at 614.586.1497 or kvyzral@ohiopharmacists.org.


    What is the Ohio Pharmacy PAC?
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