Senator Skindell Introduces Legislation To Create The Prescription Drug Assistance Program For Seniors, Disabled Ohioans And Veterans
This past week Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) introduced Senate Bill 215 to create the Ohio Rx Plan to help many Ohioans obtain the medications they need. The Ohio Rx Plan would benefit seniors, the disabled, veterans and Bronze Plan enrollees under the Affordable Health Care Act.
“Many Ohioans are struggling to pay out-of-pocket costs for insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays to acquire needed medications,” Senator Skindell said. “Passage of this legislation will result in Ohio joining a number of states providing prescription drug assistance to seniors and others who need help obtaining their medications.”
According to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2016 more than a dozen states offered State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (SPAPs) that "wrap-around" or add to the Part D benefits, including drugs bought by Medicare patients during the so-called "donut hole" spending category (http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/medicare-prescription-drug-tools.aspx).
In 2016, 1,030,738 Ohioans were enrolled in a Medicare Stand Alone Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) and 661,324 were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) with prescription drug coverage, according to Healthpocket, a consumer health information company. Using data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, HealthPocket also found that:
- The average monthly premium for a Medicare prescription drug plan in Ohio in 2017 is $54.11, or 1.67% higher than the national average of $53.22. The lowest available Medicare Part D monthly premium in Ohio in 2017 is $14.60.
- The maximum possible annual drug deductible in any 2017 Medicare drug plan across the US is $400, but in Ohio the average annual drug deductible for Medicare Part D plans is $209.25. Forty-five percent of Medicare Part D insurance plans in Ohio have a $0 annual drug deductible.
The funding for the Ohio Rx Plan would come from any savings incurred from the passage of any legislation which would mandate that a state agency not pay for prescription drugs more than the price paid by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
An initiated statute requiring the state and several related entities to pay no more for prescription drugs than what is paid by the US Department of Veterans Affairs will be before Ohio’s voters in the November 7 General Election as State Issue 2. An analysis from backers of State Issue 2 concluded that passage of the matter would result in up to $536 million per year in prescription drug prices savings.
“As a member of the Ohio legislature, I have worked to ensure affordable, quality health care to all Ohioans,” said Senator Skindell. “Creating the Ohio Rx Plan helps us reach that goal.”
Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) was elected to serve Lakewood, Cleveland and Ohio's 23rd Senate District in November, 2010. He comes from the Ohio House of Representatives, where he served four terms as the Representative for Ohio's 13th House District. After graduating cum laude with a bachelor's degree in business and political science from Walsh College, Skindell earned his law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He represented the people of Lakewood as a Councilman at Large between 1998 and 2002.