Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs
The legislature is in the middle of its summer break, so this column will be an update of where legislation stands as of June 30, the last day of Session. There will be no hearings on the following issues until at least September.
Pharmacy Wins Important Victory!
Hold-Harmless language that protects us against a severe AMP cut was included in the budget bill which was signed into law by Governor Ted Strickland on Saturday, June 30. In a nutshell, the language simply says that when the DRA pricing takes effect, the ODJFS director has 30 days to study the effect of these cuts to determine how much money Ohio pharmacies will lose. Then the director must increase the dispensing fee an amount that equals the amount of money we lose. This language will allow pharmacies in Ohio to stay open and continue to serve the pharmacy needs of Medicaid patients and the citizens of Ohio by increasing the dispensing fee to more accurately reflect the cost of filling a prescription in Ohio.
This victory was accomplished through a joint effort between independent and chain pharmacies. Thank you to everyone who came to Columbus to testify before the legislature, wrote letters, sent emails or made phone calls. We logged over 250 emails sent to Senate and House members during the budget deliberations. This is by far the best response rate we've seen, and it told the legislators that this was a serious issue for pharmacy. Thank you for working with us on this issue! Please take the time to contact the Governor, as well as your State Senator and State Representative, and thank them for voting to protect patient access to pharmacies and keep pharmacies open and participating in the Medicaid program.
HB 283: Donated Drugs
Rep. Shawn Webster (R-Hamilton) has again offered to sponsor this legislation which was brought to OPA's attention by representatives of the colleges of pharmacy in Ohio. It will allow manufacturers, wholesalers or pharmacies to donate unused and expired drugs to the colleges of pharmacy for instructional use. The cost of purchasing drugs that are used for instructional purposes has become a big concern for Ohio's colleges and schools of pharmacy as higher education funding from the State keeps dwindling. This is a great way to save money for both the state and the colleges.
Freedom of Access
Another important piece of legislation we will be working very hard on this year is the Pharmacy Freedom of Access bill. Rep. Patton has agreed to sponsor this legislation which would prohibit mandatory mail order. It would allow an out-of- network pharmacy to fill a patient prescription as long as they are willing to meet the terms and conditions set in the contract. It would also require equal co-pays, equal days supply, and open access to any pharmacy. OPA will continue to work with the sponsor to make sure that this legislation contains all the provisions needed to meet the needs of pharmacists in Ohio.
OPA just received notice that the Board of Pharmacy filed rules for the Pharmacist immunization bill and the public hearing will be September 10 at 11:00 a.m. An October effective date is expected. If you are interested in reviewing the rules and commenting on them please contact Kelly Vyzral at firstname.lastname@example.org
OPA Legislative Day: October 10, 2007
The Ohio Pharmacists Association and the Ohio Society of Health-System Pharmacists have joined together to sponsor Pharmacy Legislative Day to inform you of crucial legislation involving pharmacy. Invited guests include Governor Ted Strickland; Senator Bill Harris (R-Ashland), President of the Senate; Representative Jon Husted (R-Kettering), Speaker of the House; Senator Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls), Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee; and Representative John White (R-Kettering), Chairman of the House Health Committee. You will learn how to make your voice heard in Ohio's political arena, and find out how important it is to keep your legislators informed about pharmacy issues before them. You will also have the opportunity to earn 4.5 hours of continuing education credit, including one hour of Ohio jurisprudence, during the classroom portion of the day. At the end of the day, you will have the opportunity to rub elbows with your State Senator and State Representative and talk to them about issues that matter to you and your pharmacy at a legislative reception. Save the date, you will be receiving more information this month.