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Monday, August 22, 2016

AHF: Committee Sues Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State, Over Voter Signatures on Drug Price Ballot Measure

AHF sues to restore voter signatures in support of a ballot measure to lower drug prices for state programs in Ohio

Legal action, filed as a Complaint in Original Action in Mandamus with the Supreme Court of Ohio today over improper rejection of voter signatures by Secretary Husted, seeks to restore the signatures on a ballot measure intended to lower drug prices for state programs in Ohio.

The Court had previously dismissed, without prejudice, a lawsuit seeking restoration of the voter signatures, writing at the time that the lawsuit was “premature,” pending the resolution of a separate, but related OSC lawsuit brought by PhRMA seeking to invalidate voter signatures on the ballot measure.

The Supreme Court of Ohio issued a ruling in the PhRMA case denying most of PhRMA’s claims and objections on the signatures; however, one part of the ruling now compels backers of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act to collect an additional 5,044 voter signatures by August 25th—making the backers’ prior legal action to restore the voter signatures urgent, and no longer “premature.”

August 22, 2016  --(BUSINESS WIRE)--Members of the citizens’ committee sponsoring the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act filed a new legal action (Case No. 2016-1235) today with the Supreme Court of Ohio against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted over voter signatures in support of a ballot measure to lower drug prices for state programs in Ohio that backers allege were unlawfully invalidated by Secretary Husted earlier this year.

The legal action was filed as a Complaint in Original Action in Mandamus with the Supreme Court of Ohio .

The Supreme Court of Ohio had previously dismissed (without prejudice) a lawsuit by members of the drug pricing ballot measure citizens’ committee that was seeking restoration of the voter signatures, writing at the time that the backers’ lawsuit was “premature,” pending the resolution of a separate, but related lawsuit brought in the SCO by PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, the lobbying association of large drug manufacturers) in conjunction with the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association seeking to invalidate voter signatures on the ballot measure.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued a ruling in the PhRMA case denying most of PhRMA’s claims and objections on the signatures; however, one part of the ruling now compels backers of the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act to collect an additional 5,044 voter signatures by August 25th—making the citizens’ committee’s prior legal action to restore the signatures urgent, and no longer “premature.”

In its lawsuit, the Ohio drug pricing advocates assert:
“The instant action is a re-filing of State ex rel. Tracy L. Jones, et al. v. Jon Husted, et al., Case No. 2016-455, but is more limited in scope based on the Court’s August 15, 2016 decision in Ohio Mfrs. Assn. v. Ohioans for Drug Price Relief Act, Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5377 which invalidated 10,303 signatures from the petition proposing the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act to the General Assembly (“the Petition”), leaving the Petition 5,044 signatures below the constitutionally required threshold. However, the Court in Ohio Mfrs. Assn. also held that it is improper to invalidate part-petitions because they contain signatures crossed out by someone other than the circulator, signer, or signer’s attorney-in-fact. The instant action seeks to recover such signatures that were rejected by Respondent and various county boards of elections. The recovery of these signatures would more than make up the deficiency and further would moot the portion of the Court’s decision that “[i]f the secretary certifies enough valid signatures, then he shall resubmit the initiative to the General Assembly, in accordance with the terms of the Ohio Constitution, Article ii, Section 1b.” Id. at ¶47.”

The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act will amend Ohio law to require state programs to pay the same or less for prescription medications as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs1.

Backers intended to have the initiative appear on Ohio’s November 2016 presidential election ballot, but obstructionist—and backers believe, illegal—moves by Secretary of State Husted have forced the ballot measure proponents to aim for the November 2017 Ohio ballot instead.

“Secretary of State Jon Husted rode roughshod over local County Board of Elections that twice certified voter signatures for the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act when he eliminated those signatures, an act that thwarted attempts to get this measure before voters and on the ballot in Ohio,” said Michael Weinstein, President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the sponsor and primary funder of the measure.

“Now, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in the PhRMA case forces backers to gather an additional 5,044 signatures by August 25th in order to compel Secretary Husted to transmit the proposed law to the Ohio legislature, as legally required under the Ohio Constitution. However, the ruling also appears to overturn Husted’s invalidation of more than 20,000 signatures previously thrown out by him.

The committee is now suing to get further clarity from the court and restore those other signatures—which are more than enough to force Husted to advance this measure for consideration and possible action by the Ohio legislature as the next step in the process of ultimately bringing this drug pricing issue before Ohio voters in ballot measure form in November 2017.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 614,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook:www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram:@aidshealthcare


1 V.A. pricing is generally believed to be 20% to 24% lower than for almost any other government program.
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