Farmers bullish on hemp, Dayton locals winning Oscars, and the costs of Rx drugs

    Each day in our newsletter, we are highlighting stories and commentary from other media big and small throughout Ohio and the nation. If you’d like to get this feature directly to your inbox, please sign up for our newsletter here. 

    Catching Our Eye:

    Hemp dreams. Mahoning Matters is reporting, “Ohio farmers cautiously optimistic about hemp industry.”

    “Ohio’s farmers will be growing hemp this spring.

    It’s a risky crop, but these farmers are “the pioneers that are trying to make this work,” said one advocate.

    They know hemp won’t make much of a profit at first, mainly because of regulations, said Julie Doran, founder of the Ohio Hemp Farmers Cooperative.

    “‘All the states might be able to work through their pilot program this 2020 growing season, but after the USDA adopts their final rule on hemp regulations, they’re all going to have to adapt to a total THC,’ she said.”
    Oscar-worthy. Dayton Daily News’ Laura Bischoff is reporting, “Filmmakers applaud Ohio movie tax credits, while critics pan them.”

    “‘American Factory,’ the local documentary that won an Academy Award on Sunday night, benefited from an Ohio tax credit program that has both its fans and critics.

    “The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, started in 2009, delivered a $119,500 tax break to the producers of ‘American Factory’ — a film made by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar of Yellow Springs. In April, Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, and Netflix acquired the film, which follows the creation of a Chinese-owned auto glass factory in the same plant that once housed a General Motors assembly operation in Moraine…

    “The tax credit program is undergoing a major remake this year after lawmakers agreed to expand the credit to include live theater productions, the cost of post-production work and promotional expenses and implement competitive criteria. Ohio lawmakers also decided to axe a feature that allowed movie producers to ‘transfer’ or sell the tax credit to someone else.”
    Rx costs. The Columbus Dispatch’s Cathy Candisky is reporting, “Prescription costs jump for Ohio’s state employees.

    “Out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for state workers and their families increased 18% last year, a new report shows.

    “The increase was greater than the 5.7% hike in total prescription costs for the health insurance plan covering state employees, suggesting beneficiaries are bearing the brunt of rising drug prices.

    “Meanwhile, the analysis by the state’s pharmacy benefit manager, OptumRx, showed that its own specialty pharmacy, BriovaRx, received the biggest piece of the plan’s prescription drug business.

    “Hired by the state to keep drug costs down, OptumRx paid BriovaRx $58.2 million to fill fewer than 1% of all prescriptions in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. The earnings were three times more than the next highest paid pharmacy, Kroger, which took in $18.6 million from the plan last year.”

    David C. DeWitt
    David C. DeWitt is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience covering Ohio politics and policy. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS and Plunderbund.com covering topics such as education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, government, business, labor, energy, environment and social issues. His work has also appeared in Government Executive, the Columbus Dispatch, Girlfriends magazine, Bleacher Report and the Ashtabula Star Beacon, among others.