Brief Statehouse Update from Ohio AAP Lobbyist Danny Hurley

Ohio House of Representatives Passes Operating Budget; Ohio Senate Hearings Begin-Last week, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 166 (State Operating Budget) by a strong bipartisan vote of 85-9. This is a larger vote than the state transportation budget (HB 62), which passed 71-27 earlier this year. Both budgets tested the bipartisan coalition that Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) assembled to secure his gavel in January and demonstrated the Speaker’s ability to maneuver between the House Minority Caucus and more conservative members of his own caucus. The House version of HB 166 largely preserves many of Governor DeWine’s policy priorities and funding requests, but will likely elicit some pushback from Senate Republicans. The Ohio Senate will wrap up its work in early June, setting up a conference committee to resolve differences between the two chambers.

Healthcare Issues Dominate House Changes-Governor DeWine’s budget proposal was met largely with support from healthcare provider groups, patient advocates, and hospitals. Unfortunately for the Administration, the House Budget includes several contentious proposals that will change the dynamics of the budget significantly for healthcare providers. Most notably, HB 166 now includes language revamping Ohio’s controversial health price transparency law; the original law was passed four years ago and subsequently challenged in court. The updated proposal still requires healthcare providers to supply cost estimates for most services regardless of whether or not the patient requests one; this proposal would increase costs for providers.

Another significant proposal would require the Ohio Department of Medicaid to contract with a single pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) to manage pharmacy benefits under the Medicaid Managed Care Program. The current system, in which all five Medicaid managed care plans have their own PBM contracts, has come under significant scrutiny over the past year. Under this proposal, a single PBM would manage all pharmacy benefits for more than 90% of Medicaid enrollees and would manage the prescription drug formulary for Medicaid. Patient advocates have expressed reservations about a single formulary which could result in limited access to high cost drugs, however physician groups have been supportive from an administrative perspective. Finally, the House did maintain Governor DeWine’s proposal to increase the age of purchase for tobacco products to 21 years of age, however, this will continue to be a fight in the Senate.  Ohio AAP is in support of the Tobacco 21 policy.



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