breaking news

Police make arrests, reports from St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

Issue 2 opponents, supporters face off in Dayton

State Issue 2 supporters and opponents came to Dayton on Thursday night to trade statistics, stories and barbs — and repeatedly accused the other side of distorting the facts and making bogus claims or promises.

The exchanges during a public forum about Issue 2 at Sinclair College featured a lively and combative debate focused primarily on whether the ballot initiative would actually lower drug prices in the state.

Issue 2: Complete coverage, past stories, video and more

Foes and supporters of Issue 2 agree that there is widespread confusion about the initiative among voters, but they blame one another for causing it by running deceptive campaigns.

“This is a really important issue … but I think it’s an issue that is about as clear as mud for most of us, so we’re hoping to clarify some things this evening,” said WHIO Radio news director Brittany Otto, who moderated the panel discussion.

The forum was hosted by WHIO Radio, the Dayton Daily News, WHIO-TV, Sinclair and the League of Women Voters of the Greater Dayton Area.

Dayton Daily News reporter Katie Wedell and WHIO-TV anchor James Brown selected questions for the panel submitted by audience members and people who listened or watched the discussion at home.

Thursday’s forum was broadcast live on WHIO Radio and online at and

Based on questions from listeners, viewers and audience members, many people want to know if Issue 2 truly would save the state and taxpayers money and how it would impact consumers who do not receive medications through state programs.

Panelists, however, gave very different answers about what will happen if the ballot measure passes on Nov. 7.

Issue 2 would save the state and Ohio taxpayers $400 million each year by requiring it to pay no more for prescription drugs than the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, said Matt Borges, former Ohio GOP chairman and a representative from “Yes On Issue 2.”

The VA gets a 24 percent federally mandated discount on all drugs sold to the agency, and the state can get those savings, leaving more public funding for schools and other programs and could support tax relief for Ohioans, he said.

The passage also would “create immediate demand in the marketplace for prices to come down — for the federal government, other states and private entities as well,” Borges said.

“It lowers prices for everyone,” he said.

RELATED: Your questions answered on Issue 2

But Dale Butland, former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) and a representative of Vote No on Issue 2 campaign, said nearly every expert who has studied the ballot initiative has concluded that it will raise drug costs for most Ohioans while decreasing access to medications for vulnerable residents.

Butland said the two-thirds of Ohioans who do not get medications through state health insurance programs will not save “one penny” if Issue 2 passes, and they would likely see higher prices since drug companies will have to shift costs to these consumers.

Butland said Ohioans may be angered by rising drug prices but approving Issue 2 will not make medications any more affordable and could cost Ohioans millions of dollars more through higher prices.

“Yes, we all need access to affordable drugs, but Issue 2 isn’t the answer – it’s a prescription for disaster,” he said.

RELATED: What’s really going on with Issue 2?

Throughout the night, Borges and Butland took shots at each other and launched blistering attacks on the motivations of the other side’s campaign.

The drug companies spent $126 million dollars to defeat a similar ballot issue and California and have already spent more than $30 million on TV ads in Ohio to try to sink Issue 2, Borges said.

“You think it’s because they care about their patients? You think it’s because they are good people? Or do you think it’s because they care about protecting $711 billion worth of profits?” Borges said.

Greedy drug companies have rigged the system to charge the highest prices possible and avoid negotiations, Borges said, and they threaten to raise drug prices to punish Ohio if voters try to get a better deal on medications through this ballot issue.

But Borges “continues to trumpet this ridiculous and preposterous idea that Issue 2 is going to save the state $400 million” when the state budget director concluded Issue 2 won’t lead to savings, Butland said.

RELATED: Who is the man behind Issue 2?

Medicaid accounts for most of the state’s spending on medications, but it is an insurance program that pays pharmacies for prescription drugs, said John McCarthy, former Ohio Medicaid director who is a representative of the Vote No campaign.

Issue 2 does not force drug companies to sell those prescriptions to pharmacists at the lowest VA price — it says the state can’t pay more than the VA price, McCarthy said.

The state may not be able to purchase prescriptions at the VA prices, which would lead to less coverage for Medicaid recipients, opponents say.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Road construction season started early in Butler County, and here’s what it means for you
Road construction season started early in Butler County, and here’s what it means for you

Spring is orange cone and detour sign season, and the season is in full swing in Butler County. The Butler County engineer got an early start on $26 million worth of road improvements this year, starting with the Ohio 747 widening project that began last month. As promised, there will likely be only one full closure for that project, and that is happening...
Police make arrests, reports from St. Patrick’s Day celebrations
Police make arrests, reports from St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration landed on a Saturday, but for many the revelry, and police incident reports, started on Friday. The most significant incident reported from Saturday started around 4 p.m. on Lowes Street. Police responded to the report of a large crowd that had gathered in the street in the University of Dayton...
Trey Gowdy to Trump, lawyer: 'When you're innocent .. act like it'
Trey Gowdy to Trump, lawyer: 'When you're innocent .. act like it'

Asserting that “when you are innocent … act like it,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) urged President Donald Trump and his lawyer to allow special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to continue, Fox News reported. Gowdy said that the efforts of Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, to end Mueller’s probe did the president...
3-year-old girl allegedly assaulted by her babysitter has died
3-year-old girl allegedly assaulted by her babysitter has died

A 3-year-old girl died today, just a few days after her babysitter was indicted on charges of felonious assault and felony child endangering. Hannah Wesche was essentially “brain dead” at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, her father, Jason Wesche, previously told Journal-News. She was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m., he...
Brown: Trump bruising behavior will change when GOP goes public
Brown: Trump bruising behavior will change when GOP goes public

By Jack Torry Washington Bureau Sen. Sherrod Brown predicted today that President Donald Trump will alter his bruising behavior only after Republicans on Capitol Hill criticize him publicly as they have done privately. In an interview on “NBC’s Meet the Press,” Brown, D-Ohio said he has heard “so many Republican “senators...
More Stories