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August Legislative Update

Important Federal & State Legislation Impacting Pharmacy

August Legislative Update
Alyson Welsh, Director of Government Affairs

President Bush announces support for discount drug cards!
On July 12, 2001, President George W. Bush announced his principles for Medicare reform, including support of an interim prescription drug discount card. The proposal would allow Medicare beneficiaries to purchase their prescription drugs at reduced prices at participating pharmacies beginning next year. In the past few years, the "discount card" approach has been a very popular way for state politicians to address the constant rising costs of prescription drugs. Although, as we realize, these cards do not attack the drug manufacturers wherein lies the reason seniors' drug costs have risen so dramatically. Seventy-eight percent of the average prescription cost reflects the charge from the drug manufacturers. Requiring pharmacies to give discounts on drugs will not provide the savings that the Administration is hoping for and also is an unfair price control on America' s pharmacies.
Prescription discount drug cards are the wrong treatment for high medication prices. Although the Bush proposal promises manufacturer rebates to seniors, the important question of HOW those rebates will reach the beneficiary remain unexplained. Please contact your federal representatives about President Bush's proposal.

The Honorable Mike DeWine
140 Russell Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
202.224.6519 (FAX)

The Honorable George Voinovich
317 Hart Building
Washington, DC 20510
202.228.1382 (FAX)

Please refer to your OPA Legislative Directory for information on who your representative is in the U.S. House of Representatives. If you need additional information about this proposal, please don't hesitate to contact me in the OPA office at 614.798.0037.

Orthotics & Prosthetics Licensure Exemptions
The Ohio Legislature passed a bill in 2000 that requires persons practicing in orthotics, prosthetics, or pedorthics to be licensed by the State Board of Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. Pharmacists who have been certified by NCPA as fitters could have been required to be licensed under this bill, so OPA worked to get clarification that pharmacists are not to be licensed under the legislation. The following language was added to the licensure law during the most recent state budget process that should solve our concerns. The following items are exempt from the licensure bill:

"upper extremity adaptive equipment used to facilitate the activities of daily living, finger splints, wrist splints, prefabricated elastic or fabric abdominal supports with or without metal or plastic reinforcing stays and other prefabricated soft goods requiring minimal fitting, nontherapeutic accommodative inlays, shoes that are not manufactured or modified for a particular individual, prefabricated foot care products, durable medical equipment, dental appliances, pedorthic devices, or devices implanted into the body by a physician."

Additionally, the exemptions from the licensure law incorporated within the definition for prosthesis are:

"devices implanted into the body by a physician, artificial eyes, intraocular lenses, dental appliances, ostomy products, cosmetic devices such as breast prostheses, eyelashes, wigs or other devises that do not have significant impact on the musculoskeletal functions of the body."

Primarily, the State Board of Orthotics and the sponsor of the legislation have stated that, if you are fitting a prefabricated device, licensure is not necessary. However, if you are measuring patients and having devices custom-designed, you would be required to obtain a license. If you have questions on any of the above language, please contact OPA.

House Bill 4: Golden Buckeye Card Discount
OPA distributed a member newsletter in June highlighting the recent actions of the Ohio General Assembly on House Bill 4. The Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 4, and the bill was then sent to the Ohio Senate where it was assigned to the Senate Health, Human Services and Retirement Committee. Initially, OPA heard rumors that the bill was going to be heard and voted out of committee during the last days of session in late June. OPA was successful in delaying any hearings on the bill until the Ohio Legislature reconvenes in early Fall. OPA continues to work with the Governor's office, Senator Lynn Wachtmann and Senate President Finan on additional provisions to protect retail pharmacy under the program outlined in the bill.

Food Licensure Exemption Bill
State Senator Lynn Wachtmann introduced Senate Bill 136 on June 16, 2001. This bill will exempt pharmacies that do not sell perishable food items from the requirement of obtaining a license by local boards of health as a Retail Food Establishment (RFE). Last year, the Ohio Legislature passed a comprehensive bill to clean up the licensure requirements for grocery stores and to simplify their licensure process. Unfortunately, the words "over-the-counter" drugs were incorporated into the definition of a RFE and therefore, many pharmacies around Ohio who do not even sell food items were being required to pay for a RFE license. Senator Wachtmann is spearheading this issue and is very supportive of making sure that pharmacies, along with many other unintended businesses, receive an exemption from this license. SB 136 received sponsor testimony in the Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee and will resume hearings in the Fall.

Governor Taft Appoints Board Members
Governor Bob Taft has appointed Nathan S. Lipsyc, R.Ph. and Gregory Braylock, Sr., R.Ph. to four-year terms, beginning July 1, 2001, on the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy. Nathan is President of Medic Drug in Cleveland and Greg is Pharmacy Manager for Walgreens in East Cleveland.
Ann Abele, R.Ph. of Ashland was voted president for 2001-2002 and Diane Adelman, R.Ph. of Beachwood vice president.
Current board members and their terms are as follows:

  • Ann Abele, R.Ph. 1998-2002
  • Lawrence Kost, R.Ph. 1999-2002
  • Suzanne Eastman, R.Ph., M.S. 1999-2003
  • Robert Giacalone, R.Ph., J.D. 1999-2003
  • Diane Adelman, R.Ph. 2000-2004
  • James Turner, R.Ph. 2000-2004
  • Gregory Braylock, R.Ph. 2001-2005
  • Nathan S. Lipsyc, R.Ph. 2001-2005
  • Dorothy Teater 2000-2004 (public member)

Ohio Legislature Summer Recess
The 124th Ohio General Assembly officially broke for summer recess, and will reconvene in early September. Most Ohio legislators return to their districts during the summer months to participate in parades, county fairs and to spend some time with their constituents. Therefore, this is a great time to call your state senator or state representative to come and visit your pharmacy! Ohio legislators are dealing with a variety of pharmacy related issues right now and would benefit tremendously by having a guided tour of the daily workings of a pharmacy. If you wish to set up a meeting and need some assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me at the OPA office at 614.798.0037. I would be happy to assist you in contacting your legislators and giving you some background information on their stance on pharmacy issues.

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