While health care has been a hot topic in Congress this year, much of the heavy lifting has been done at the state level since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010. States have enacted a number of measures in an effort to rein in costs and provide better coverage for residents. Two health care-related measures will go before voters this fall — one in Maine and one in Ohio.
Maine Question 2:
Ballot Title: “An Act to Enhance Access to Affordable Health Care.”
Ballot Title: “To require state agencies to not pay more for prescription drugs than the federal Department of Veterans Affairs and require state payment of attorney fees and expenses to specific individuals for defense of the law.”
Ohioans will vote this November on quite possibly the most expensive ballot measure in state history. The measure has already seen contentious litigation, including a trip to the state supreme court. The measure would require state agencies to pay drug prices no greater than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays. The measure also gives the measure’s four proponents a direct stake in legal proceedings to defend the measure in court, requiring the state to fund reasonable legal expenses, with proponents paying $10,000 to the state if the measure is struck down in court.
Opponents have made Weinstein the focal point of the campaign, accusing his AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) of directly profiting off the measure should it pass. AHF relies on federal funding known as “Ryan White Part B funding” and has been approved to get discounted rates on drugs. It has sued states, including Ohio, whenever that funding has been threatened.
Pharmaceutical companies have backed the group Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot, spending over $10 million in an ad blitz to defeat the measure. They have been joined by veterans organizations and other medical organizations that argue the measure could lead to higher prices for those not purchasing drugs through non-state programs and that drug companies could stop voluntarily negotiating prices altogether. They have also criticized the provision allowing the measure’s four sponsors to have taxpayer-funded legal defense in court if the bill is challenged.