Poll shows most Ohioans unsure about prescription drug ballot issue

A new, independent survey of Ohio voters shows that despite months of contentious television advertising, a majority of respondents did not understand a ballot measure that would attempt to align state drug purchasing prices with those paid by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The forces for and against Issue 2 are spending so much money that they could set new records in Ohio in election spending. But six out of 10 registered Ohio voters told Survey USA they don’t know much, if anything about Issue 2, according to WOIO Cleveland 19 News, which commissioned the poll with WXIX 19 Cincinnati and WTOL 11 Toledo.

Voters will decide Nov. 7 whether the state should adopt Issue 2, which would require Ohio to pay pharmaceutical companies the same rates for prescription medicine as the levels paid by the VA, which typically gets drugs at a 20 to 24 percent discount. Only state programs would be affected by Issue 2 – including Medicaid, medical programs for community college and university employees and people who have benefits through the the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation – in all affecting about 4 million adults and children.

Supporters, funded largely by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, say $400 million a year in taxpayer money would be saved if the public adopts Issue 2.

Opponents, funded entirely by the pharmaceutical industry, dispute the savings and say that prices for people covered by private insurance could increase to offset the losses drug companies would experience from the state.

SurveyUSA polled 532 Ohioans over the telephone between Aug. 1 and Aug. 6. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.3 percent.

Highlights of the survey, according to Cleveland 19 News:

  • If voting today, 30 percent would vote yes, 15 percent would vote no and 54 percent are uncertain how they’d vote.
  • Twenty-three percent did not understand the Issue 2 at all, 35 percent didn’t understand it very well, 35 percent somewhat understood it and 6 percent understood it very well.
  • If Issue 2 passes, 26 percent said their expenses for meds will remain the same, 36 percent were unsure, 15 percent said they’d pay less and 23 percent said they’d pay more.

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