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Ohio Grapples with State Budget Crisis

Pharmacy Issues in the New OH Legislature, Fighting for Pharmacy

Legislative Update March 2003
Alyson Welsh, Director of Government Affairs

Ohio Grapples with State Budget Crisis

Governor Bob Taft and Ohio legislators have been debating solutions to the State’s current budget crisis. Governor Taft’s initial proposals were met with much hesitation and question on the actual amount of money the State is in the red. There are two bills being debated, one is a “corrections budget bill” that will balance the last unsettled budget and then the “budget bill” which addresses the next two-year biannual budget. In his summarizing remarks in late January, Governor Taft stated the following cuts were going to be made under his plan:

. All Medicaid health care provider fees will be frozen for two years.
. The following optional services under Medicaid will no longer be available for non-pregnant adults:
Dental
Optical
Chiropractic
Podiatric
Psychology

. A $3 co-payment for all non-Preferred Drug List pharmaceuticals for Medicaid recipients.

These are just some of the relevant cuts proposed by Governor Taft in his budget bill. In addition to these Medicaid cuts, he has proposed the addition of sales tax on specific services such as manicures and pet grooming, and also an additional cigarette and beer tax. Governor Taft’s budget proposal has to be approved by both the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate by June 30, 2003. At the time of printing, hearings on the “budget bill” had not yet begun; however, there was talk about legislators changing much of the content of the Governor’s plan.

Keep in mind that the above mentioned cuts and co-payment ideas are not yet law, and may in fact be changed completely once the Ohio Legislature votes on this bill. With the State budget process, things are likely to change frequently and sometimes late into the evening. OPA will keep you updated on any changes to pharmacy in the ongoing process.

Golden Buckeye Prescription Program

The Golden Buckeye Card Prescription Drug program still has not been implemented and the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) is stating that the program will be up and running this month. ODA will be sending new cards to all current Golden Buckeye Card members during March. ODA is still in negotiations with drug manufacturers who have chosen not to participate in the program. They believe those negotiations will be finalized within the next month. When Golden Buckeye Card holders receive their new cards, they will also receive a list of participating pharmacies for the program.

Ohio Legislature Back in Session

Senate Bill 14 has been introduced by Senator Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown). This legislation requires Medicaid to negotiate rebates for discounts to seniors and others.
OPA is working on getting a bill introduced to require insurers to issue a uniform drug card. It should solve the problems pharmacists face with cards that don’t have enough information to process the claim. We have met with insurers, and have reason to believe that the legislation should pass this session.
We are also working to see legislation introduced that will expand pharmacists’ ability to administer immunizations. Pharmacists have recommended changes in reporting requirements, emergency medication administration, and other issues. We hope to see that introduced soon.

Please find out who your state legislators are, and be ready to write or call them. You can find out who your legislators are on our website at www.ohiopharmacists.org/leginfo.html. Under "Your Legislative Connection" simply click on the Contact Your State Senators or Contact Your State Representatives link. If they make an appearance in your town, please introduce yourself. If you wait until we need their vote to meet them, it may be too late.

Fighting for Pharmacy

The Ohio Pharmacists Association Political Action Committee (Pharmacy PAC) is a voluntary, nonprofit, nonpartisan composition of pharmacists throughout Ohio who are interested in promoting good government. Pharmacy PAC helps OPA inform legislators about important pharmacy battles at the Ohio Statehouse such as nurse dispensing,
Medicaid reimbursement, and PBM Regulation. One hundred percent of contributions is spent assisting legislators who support pharmacy in Ohio! Help us help you by making your contribution today! Please send a personal check for any amount (corporate checks are not allowed by law) to Pharmacy PAC, 6037 Frantz Road, Suite 106, Dublin, Ohio 43017 or to make a secure online donation to the Ohio Pharmacy PAC, $$Link,AWS_SSL:DisplayInputForm&FormID=37, CLICK HERE!$$

We Need Help
Please send copies of prescriptions with poor handwriting, with the prescribers’ and patients’ names blacked out, to the attention of OPA Executive Director Ernest Boyd, Ohio Pharmacists Association, 6037 Frantz Road, Suite 106, Dublin, OH 43017. These will be used in meetings with the Ohio Department of Health and medical societies.

Get Involved Politically !
Join other pharmacists and become a “key legislative contact” for your area. This is a great way to establish and/or maintain relationships with key state officials.
To register online as a Legislative Contact, $$Link,AWS_SSL:DisplayInputForm&FormID=18,CLICK HERE!$$
Or you may contact the OPA office at opa@ohiopharmacists.org to get involved!

What is the Ohio Pharmacy PAC?
The Pharmacy Political Action Committee is a voluntary, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of pharmacists who are interested in promoting good government and public health. Pharmacy PAC money contributed by pharmacists goes to help candidates who support pharmacy in Ohio. That's right, your money is used to support political clout for Pharmacy … right here in Ohio!

To make a secure online donation to the Ohio Pharmacy PAC, $$Link,AWS_SSL:DisplayInputForm&FormID=37, CLICK HERE!$$

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