Ohio Move to Amend Analyzes Ohio Issue 2, the Drug Price Standards Initiative

October 10, 2017

"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” Thomas Jefferson

Confident that Thomas Jefferson was right, Move to Amend is providing the facts on State Issue 2, so that voters can make an informed choice.

State Issue 2 is sparking a lot of controversy and is the source of much confusion for Ohio voters. It pits two out-of-state deep-pocketed sides against one another; both are spending huge amounts of money on ads. Let’s look at the issue and follow the money.

If Issue 2 passes, the state of Ohio can't pay more for prescription drugs for Medicaid, state employee health plans and other state-run programs than the U.S. Veterans Administration pays. Issue 2 would also allow the measure’s petitioners to have a direct and personal stake in defending the law from legal challenges, require the state to pay the petitioners’ reasonable legal expenses, and require the petitioners to pay $10,000 to the state if a court rules Issue 2 unenforceable. Those opposing the measure claim that consumer drug prices will simply be increased to compensate for the lower prices to workers comp, state employee, Medicaid, and Medicare recipients.

Where did Issue 2 come from? The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, based in California, is the top financial contributor in support of Issue 2. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that aims to provide education, research, advocacy, and health services related to AIDS awareness. The foundation was formed out of a hospice care organization founded in the 1980s at a time when AIDS was not well understood and not easily treated. Their mission, then and now, is to get medications to patients REGARDLESS of ability to pay.

The “No on Issue 2” Campaign website features a long list of organizations lined up against the measure including physicians, healthcare professionals, chambers of commerce, manufacturers’ associations and even the Ohio Air National Guard. However, the real story behind this campaign can be found in the July 2017 campaign finance report filed with the State showing that substantially all the funding for the “No on Issue 2” campaign has come from one source, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

“Dale Butland, communications director for the opposition group, said that "We have said from the very beginning that PhRMA is funding this campaign," he said. “As you can see from the report that is entirely true. PhRMA gets its money from the member companies and PhRMA gives the money to the LLC, which then contributes to our (political action committee.)"

As of September 9, 2017, Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices, the campaign supporting Issue 2, had raised almost $6.23 million, 99.99 percent of which came from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Opponents organized as Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue and raised $16.23 million from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and a PhRMA subsidiary.

That PhRMA has outspent supporters almost 3 to 1 in a short amount of time should be a clue that big money interests are against this. In fact, this issue is projected to see the largest single- issue campaign spending in Ohio history.

Move to Amend laments the subversion of the democratic process. This is not the people of Ohio working out what is best for ourselves and our health care; it is moneyed interests using their ability to spend unlimited amounts of cash to get their way. They do this with ads that target consumer fears and have no resemblance to facts. The people of Ohio are being subjected to manipulative advertising campaigns designed to appeal to emotional impulses instead of reason.

Meanwhile, the corporate media, flush with all the cash from ads purchased by both sides, are ignoring the core issue: the strangling of our democracy via money in elections and corporate rule (in this case an issue election).

Money should not be considered free speech! Issue 2 provides a clear and compelling example of why we need to get corporate personhood rights out of the constitution and money out of politics.

References:
https://ballotpedia.org/Ohio_Issue_2,_Drug_Price_Standards_Initiative_(2017) http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2017/07/opposition_to_issue_2_rx...

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