Hamilton man dies in boating accident on Lake Cumberland

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 3:26 PM
Updated: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 3:37 PM

            Hamilton resident Kenneth Ducklo died in an apparent boating accident on Lake Cumberland..
Hamilton resident Kenneth Ducklo died in an apparent boating accident on Lake Cumberland..

A Hamilton resident died Monday in an apparent boating accident on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky, according to the Russell County Coroner’s Office.

Kenneth Ducklo, 70, died from “multiple blunt force trauma” as a result of a boating accident that occurred shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, a spokesperson with the coroner’s office told this news outlet.

MORE: Intoxicated man impersonating officer in Oxford had guns, police say

The incident occurred east of Campbell’s Landing in Nancy, Ky.

The fatal accident involved only Ducklo’s boat and appears to be alcohol related, according to the coroner’s office.

There were no other injuries reported, and Ducklo was apparently traveling alone in the boat at the time of the accident, according to a preliminary investigation.

MORE: Photos of Hamilton pharmacy robbery suspects released

The investigation into the incident is ongoing. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources is assisting.

Crews battle house fire on Ryburn Avenue in Dayton

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 2:21 PM

Firefighters have responded to a reported house fire in the 200 block of Ryburn Avenue in Dayton Monday afternoon. 

Crews were dispatched around 2:10 p.m. and reported flames coming from the structure. 

We have a crew on the way and we’ll update this page as new details become available. 

Butler County OKs $10 million for emergency communications upgrade

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 12:15 PM
Updated: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 2:19 PM

            Fairfield police Officer Scott Webb displays his radio. Butler County commissioners have approved a $10 million deal with Motorola for an upgrade of the county’s emergency responder communications system. GREG LYNCH/STAFF
Fairfield police Officer Scott Webb displays his radio. Butler County commissioners have approved a $10 million deal with Motorola for an upgrade of the county’s emergency responder communications system. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Commissioners have approved a $10 million deal with Motorola for an upgrade of Butler County’s emergency responder communications system.

The original price tag was $19.2 million to replace infrastructure and about 3,100 radios used by police and firefighters. The new agreement is for an estimated $5.5 million for the infrastructure and 1,000 radios.

RELATED: Butler County must replace a $19.2 emergency responder communications system

Local jurisdictions are responsible for replacing their own radios and there will be 350 radios available under the sheriff’s new contract for those who want to purchase now. The negotiated price will be good for six months for those that might need to defer, according to County Administrator Charlie Young.

“The county stepped out on a limb a little bit to buy these additional radios,” Young said. “They did so in order to obtain a greater discount than we could otherwise attain, in recognition that several local jurisdictions have already indicated that they have planned for and intend to fund the purchase of radios.”

Some, like West Chester Twp., have said they would replace their radios on an as needed basis.

MORE: Cities and townships react to multi-million-dollar radio replacement

Dennis Dick, the township’s Communications Center operations manager, said he is not recommending a full replacement at this time. He likened it to the fact General Motors no longer makes Pontiacs, but you still see them on the roads.

“Obviously we’ll replace radios on an as-needed basis, we always planned for that to some extent,” Dick said. “But to just carte blanche say we’re going to replace every radio, we don’t feel that that’s needed for West Chester at this time.”

In 2005, Butler County approved a temporary sales tax levy to upgrade the county’s communications system. Now, Motorola, the provider of Butler County’s equipment, doesn’t make the radios anymore. And beginning in 2019, the company won’t service the radios anymore.

The bill came as a surprise to several jurisdictions earlier this summer and some were under the impression the county would cover all of the expenses. Fairfield was one of a few jurisdictions to anticipate and budget for the expense.

Commissioner Don Dixon said part of the reason the county could make this investment was because of Sheriff Richard Jones.

“This is substantially a lot less money than what we anticipated and what we were told to begin with,” Dixon said. “The sheriff stepped up and through the increased boarding of prisoners and working with the courts, has pledged an extra $1 million a year for the next five years. That covers a lot of the expenditures… I think the sheriff deserves a lot of credit for stepping up.”

Some had suggested the county put on another temporary sales tax to cover the enormous bill but the commissioners refused to even entertain that notion.

Butler County Sheriff’s Major Mike Craft said the county did not have an option in the equipment replacement.

“The important part that people need to understand is that we’re not buying a new toy,” Craft told the Journal-News. “This is not a toy, this is a mandated upgrade that has to happen because the system won’t be in operation anymore. It’s like anything else in this world in technology, like your phone, you only get so long.”

Young said the county has options for paying the $10 million bill but will likely use reserves to pay it up front but the commissioners will only be on the hook for about $8.5 million, after they are reimbursed by jurisdictions who purchase the new equipment.

Your questions answered about Issue 2

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 11:15 AM
Updated: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 11:15 AM

Issue 2: What is it?
Issue 2: What is it?

Ohio Issue 2 has been confusing to many voters, so we asked our readers to send in their questions and promised to find answers.

If you need a primer on Issue 2, go here: Ohio’s drug price ballot issue: What’s really going on?

Here are some of your questions and the answers so far:

Q: Who is backing for and against? Who funds those PACs?

A: The group supporting the measure is called Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices.

Their campaign is almost entirely funded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a California non-profit that bills itself as the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the U.S. It serves AIDS patients around the globe, including through several pharmacy and clinic locations in Ohio. It’s founder and president is Michael Weinstein who is seen by some as a controversial figure, but who is also credited with saving the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland from collapse.

Endorsements of the Yes campaign have come mostly from individuals including politicians, doctors, veterans and concerned citizens. They also have the endorsement of National Nurses United.

The group opposed to Issue 2 is called Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue.

The campaign is entirely funded major drug manufacturers through the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a drug industry trade group. PhRMA spokeswoman Priscilla VanderVeer said all the money the group has donated to the campaign came from member companies, of which there are 37 listed on PhRMA’s website. They include some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the market — Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck, Gilead and more.

RELATED: Issue 2 supporters say opposition is hiding donor info

The No campaign is endorsed by more than 70 organizations representing doctors, nurses, veterans, pharmacists, business, labor and retirees. The largest groups include the Ohio State Medical Association, Ohio Hospital Association, Ohio Pharmacists Association, AMVETS of Ohio, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association.

Q: Seems like the primary issue boils down to whether or not prescription drugs for Veterans are always lower than what the state of Ohio pays and if so, why would paying lower costs be a bad thing?

A: It is essentially impossible to know whether the VA price is always lower than what state programs currently pay because neither the VA’s final price, nor the state’s is public information. The VA also utilizes a very different pricing system than Medicaid and other state-funded health plans. See the next question for more on this.

We can get an idea of what the VA pays by looking at the list published by the Office of Acquisitions and Logistics.

But several former Ohio Medicaid directors who analyzed the available data said it doesn’t give the entire picture of what the VA ultimately pays after rebates and discounts.

“When we talk about what the VA pays, there’s really four different types of pricing and rebates, four layers,” said Maureen Corcoran, Medicaid director under Gov. Ted Strickland. “All of that is not public information.”

RELATED:What questions do you have about Issue 2?

It’s harder to know what Medicaid and all the various state health plans are currently paying because they each negotiate independently with drug companies and those negotiations are confidential. Each of the five managed care plans that administer Medicaid in Ohio — CareSource and Molina for example — operate independently and consider their negotiations proprietary.

It’s also worth noting that the VA, because its patient population is older, doesn’t purchase as many different types of drugs as programs like Medicaid. If the VA does not purchase a drug — like a medicine used on infants for example — Issue 2’s rules would not apply to that drug.

Q: If Issue 2 passes, I understand that Ohio will get the same prices as the Dept. of Veterans Affairs negotiates. Is there actual negotiating done between Veterans Affairs and pharmaceutical companies?

A: The VA purchases drugs directly and dispenses them through its clinics.

The agency reaps lower than average prices in two ways. First, drug makers must offer the VA a mandatory discount of at least 24 percent off the non-federal average manufacturer price. Then the VA uses its buying power to get supplemental discounts by limiting which drugs it offers on its formulary. Drug companies give lower prices in order to be included. But the lower prices come at the expense of fewer drug options for patients, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The state of Ohio does not directly purchase drugs in most cases — with a few exceptions for things like vaccines purchased by the health department. Instead, individuals with Medicaid or state employees and retirees purchase their drugs from a pharmacy, which then gets reimbursed by their state health plan. How much the state reimburses a pharmacy depends on the contract that particular plan has negotiated with drug makers and pharmacies through its pharmacy benefit manager.

RELATED: More than $20 million in ads to hit Ohio airwaves on Issue 2

Medicaid cannot restrict its drug offerings in the same way the VA can. Federal law requires that Medicaid recipients have access to any drug approved by the FDA. It does however have a preferred drug list, and access to that list gives Medicaid leverage to negotiate additional discounts. In some cases those discounts may already be pretty close to what the VA pays, in others it could be more.

Issue 2 would not change the amount the pharmacy pays for the drug, but would restrict the amount a state-funded health plan could reimburse the pharmacy. This is why the Ohio Pharmacists Association is against the measure. They fear they will have to take a loss on many prescriptions filled for Medicaid patients. Something they say is already happening, and forcing community pharmacies to close.

If Issue 2 passes, state-funded programs would likely pay less in reimbursements than what they pay now. But the former Medicaid directors stress that in order to hit that cap and still be able to pay pharmacy dispensing fees and fees to pharmacy benefit managers, health plans like the ones for retirees may have to shift some of their costs to their members in the form of higher co-pays.

Q: If the opposition claims it is impossible to know VA prices, how can they say that people are already paying close to those prices in the first place?

A: This claim is based on the fact that federal law dictates a mandatory discount for both the VA and Medicaid.

The VA, as stated above, receives a 24 percent mandatory discount and then gets additional discounts off of that. Medicaid must receive a 23.1 percent mandatory discount and then negotiates additional discounts off of that.

So it’s unknown what the ultimate lowest price is that either ends up paying, but we know the initial discounts are pretty close.

Q: Which advertisement is correct on Issue 2? Both say they will lower drug costs. I want to lower drug costs so should I vote yes or no?

A: The answer to this question really depends on where in the supply chain you are looking at the “cost” of drugs.

Issue 2, if passed, would only lower what Medicaid and other state-run health plans pay for drugs — and therefore would reduce the amount of tax dollars spent on prescription drugs.

It would not directly impact how much drug manufacturers charge for the drug from the outset. It wouldn’t change how much pharmacies pay to stock the drug, or how much customers on various health plans spend out-of-pocket.

And it wouldn’t have any direct impact for the majority of Ohioans who are on private or employer insurance or on Medicare, which is a federal program.

MORE: With small pharmacies disappearing, Medicaid reimbursements seen as culprit

That being said, the two sides each say there would be collateral consequences that could cause drug prices for everyone to go up or down.

Voting no, according to the No campaign, will not lower drug prices. It would simply maintain the current system and status quo on drug pricing. But they say that a Yes vote could actually increase drug prices for some people. This could happen in a few ways. Drug companies could simply increase the list price of drugs as they have been doing, because Issue 2 doesn’t stop them from charging whatever they want. And if the average price goes up, so too does the VA price. Drug companies could also stop giving out the additional discounts they currently give to the VA and Medicaid. And for some health plans, like the state retirement programs, the pressure to get state costs down to the VA level could result in cost shifting in which the state charges the retirees a larger share of their prescription costs.

According to the Yes campaign, those increases are all just scare tactics being used by the pharmaceutical companies funding the other side. They say that voting yes for Issue 2 will cause not only the state programs to pay lower prices for drugs, but will lead to others like Medicare and private insurance plans to demand those same low prices, eventually bringing down costs across the market.

Q: Campaign ads have said Weinstein is a pharmaceutical company CEO. Is that true?

A: Michael Weinstein is the president and founder of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is a non-profit global AIDS organization, not a pharmaceutical company. It was founded as a hospice for AIDS patients, but shifted to running testing facilities, clinics and pharmacies, plus doing case management for HIV positive individuals. They operate several clinics and pharmacies in Ohio as well as managed care Medicaid plans for AIDS patients in California and Florida.

AHF is a $1.3 billion operation that does make about 80 percent of its revenue from selling drugs through its pharmacies. But as a non-profit, that revenue is used to continue offering services. Weinstein’s salary is modest when compared to other directors of large non-profits. He was paid $403,093 in 2015 according to tax filings.

More prescription drug coverage:

High cost of prescriptions puts some drugs out of reach

Million-dollar drug keeps local woman alive

Consumers kept in the dark over drug pricing

Read fine print: Prescription drug discounts may contain catch

Still have questions?

The Dayton Daily News is hosting a public town hall to help voters get informed about this ballot issue.

When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 12.

Where: Sinclair Community College, Frederick C. Smith Auditorium, 444 W. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402.

More info:Register for free event on Eventbrite.

Trial date set for Hamilton man charged with murder

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 2:11 PM

            Eric Brown
Eric Brown

A trial date has been set for a Hamilton man facing a murder charge for the shooting death of Maurice Chatman in May.

Eric Brown, 19, of the 900 block of South Second Street, appeared in Butler County Common Pleas court last week where Judge Greg Howard set his trial for Dec. 11.

In addition to murder, Brown is charged with tampering with evidence and having weapons under disability.

MORE: Butler County fatal shooting victim identified

Brown told Butler County Sheriff’s detectives the May 29 shooting in St. Clair Twp. was in self-defense.

Brown was questioned by Butler County Sheriff’s detectives shortly after Chatman was found dead outside a car near the intersection of Eaton and Warwick roads about 6:40 p.m., according to court documents.

Brown said he was a back seat passenger in a car driven by Chatman when Chatman stopped the vehicle “and demanded money from him and threatened to shoot him,” according to court documents obtained by the Journal-News.

WATCH: Man talks about holding teen suspects at gunpoint

“Mr. Brown stated he pulled a gun from his pants and shot Mr. Chatman several times,” Detective Ryan Hensley wrote in the court documents.

Detectives said Brown then disposed of the gun in a creek.

Brown remains housed in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond.