Beer bandit sought by police

Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013 @ 5:27 PM
Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013 @ 5:27 PM

Police are searching for a serial shoplifter believed to be responsible for stealing several cases of beer at area Speedway gas stations.

Nineteen cases of beer, valued about $300, were reported stolen from five Speedway stores between late Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning, according to Springfield police. At the most recent theft at the station on East Main Street, surveillance footage shows a tall man with a shaved head walking into the beer cave and removing several cases of Heineken before leaving the store without paying.

The same man is suspected in similar thefts at the Speedway stations on Bechtle Avenue, North Limestone Street, South Limestone Street, South Burnett Road and West North Street. In most cases, the suspect steals cases of Bud Light, Budweiser and Heineken, according to police.

Anyone with information is asked to call Springfield police at (937) 324-7716.

Your questions answered about Issue 2

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 11:15 AM
Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 1:22 PM

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.

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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.

WHIO Reports State Issue 2 October 1 2017

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.

This week on WHIO Reports, we take a look at prescription drug prices in the state of Ohio with comments from both sides of State Issue 2.

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.

MORE: Issue 2 pits emotion against a complex drug pricing system

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.

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.

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

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.

MORE: Who is Michael Weinstein?

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.

Where to find your faves: 5 winners from Best of Springfield

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 2:37 PM


            The dining room of Guerra’s Krazy Taco. Bill Lackey/Staff
The dining room of Guerra’s Krazy Taco. Bill Lackey/Staff

The Chamber of Greater Springfield announced the winners of the annual Best of Springfield competition, a fan vote with residents choosing their favorite places from in and around the Springfield area in a variety of categories, on Thursday. More than 30 businesses were recognized by the Chamber across categories such as best cheap eats, best bar and others. Here’s where you can find five of your new local favorites and what makes them special.

» DETAILS: Best of Springfield: See who won in all 32 categories

1. Best Cheap Eats: Guerra’s Krazy Taco

This cozy Mexican spot has been a fan favorite for years. Located at 229 N. Belmont Avenue in Springfield, Guerra’s is known for providing big portions with huge flavor for small prices. People who stop by can also enjoy the unique atmostphere, which features a lot of colorful references to the culture of the cuisine.

2. Best Bar & Best Patio: Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co.

Mother Stewart’s, located at 109 W. North Street in Springfield, prides itself on its rich atmosphere. Featuring a spacious dining area, the family-owned beer garden offers a lot more than choice suds: there’s also often live music, special events and visits from some of the city’s best food trucks.

3. Best Pizza: The Hickory Inn

Having served the greater Springfield community for over 70 years, The Hickory Inn has a long-standing track record for being one of Springfield’s finest. Located at 629 N. Limestone Street, the family-friendly spot features locally-sourced food and tons of options. Some of their pizza offerings that won them their prize include the White Greek, the Pesto Chicken and the Mexican Mild, though you can build your own for an extra special touch.

4. Best Fine Dining: Cecil & Lime Cafe

Located at 227 E. Cecil Street in Springfield, Cecil & Lime caters to the more refined palate with its array of thoughtful options. Elevated dishes like sea scallops over lobster risotto and rack of lamb are only a few examples of what diners can enjoy in the upscale atmosphere. The prices may be higher here, but they’re definitely well worth it.

5. Best Coffee & Best Sweets: Winan’s Chocolates + Coffees

If you’re looking for a great cup of coffee with customer service to match, look no farther than Winan’s. Springfield’s branch of the Ohio-based retailer, located at 32 N. Fountain Avenue, is one of the chain’s newest and they’re already making an impact. They offer a number of mellow blends for caffiene lovers, but their real claim to fame is their menu of gourmet chocolates like double dark meltaways and peanut butter smidgens that will have you counting down the time until you can visit again.

» READ MORE: Downtown Springfield business owner sells after 15 years of growth

» READ MORE: FOOD DEAL: How to get a $3 burrito from Chipotle on Halloween

Hometown favorites: 3 places that make Springfield special

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 11:47 AM

Hartman Rock Garden in Springfield. Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen
HANDOUT
Hartman Rock Garden in Springfield. Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen(HANDOUT)

Sometimes, the most fascinating things about your hometown are hiding in plain sight.

Here are three local landmarks you may want to visit so you can rediscover their magic all over again — or see them for the first time.

1. The Hartman Rock Garden

The restored Hartman Rock Garden in Springfield will be dedicated on June 26. Staff Photo by Barbara J. Perenic(Barbara J. Perenic)

Started in 1932 by Harry George “Ben” Hartman, the Hartman Rock Garden, located at 1905 Russell Ave., started as a single stone pond. Hartman, who had been laid off from his job as a molder, soon began building other things from rocks, bits of metal, concrete and anything else he came across, creating a stunningly detailed garden world unique in its own right.

Now, after 85 years, the garden still welcomes tourists from all over the world to see the intricate creations inside what Hartman’s wife, Mary, called a “garden of love.”

» READ MORE: Hartman Rock Garden gaining solid ground as tourist draw

2. George Rogers Clark Park

George Rogers Clark Park, Springfield (Courtesy of iWitness 7 Contributor Eric Wright)(Breaking News Staff)

The George Rogers Clark Park has a unique history, set on the site where the Battle of Peckuwe was fought and won by Clark in 178re0 near the end of the Revolutionary War.

Now the park, which can be found at 936 South Tecumseh Road, plays host to a quiet atmosphere with many natural trails, scenic waterways, and an open lake. The park is also the site of the Fair at New Boston every Labor Day weekend, which allows visitors to enjoy an 18th Century atmosphere and learn about the history of the time.

» READ MORE: Clark County has plenty of local recreation options

3. The Pennsylvania House

The Pennsylvania House at 1311 W. Main Street. The Springfield Historic Landmarks Commission passed a resolution of support for a special panel to identify a list of potential buildings and sites for designation as local landmarks. The Pennsylvannia House is already designated a local landmark. Bill Lackey/Staff(Bill Lackey)

The Pennsylvania House, originally constructed in 1839, was a vital part of the National Road before trains became a major option for settling the western frontier. Travelers used the site to rest on their journeys, and the inn there is said to have housed famous historical figures such as Charles Dickens and James K. Polk.

It is now part of the National Historic Register and operates as a museum located at 1311 W. Main Street and houses many artifacts of the past, from an extensive button collection to its own architecture. The museum is only open from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from March through December and is closed on all major holidays. Admission is $10 for adults and $3 for students.

1 flown to hospital in crash that closes I-75N in Shelby County

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 6:01 PM
Updated: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 6:25 PM

UPDATE @ 6:25 p.m.

The northbound lanes of Interstate 75 are back open at Ohio 274 near Botkins in Shelby County.

The vehicle in the crash is off the side of the highway, but traffic remains backed up.

A medical helicopter took one person to an area hospital.

FIRST REPORT

The northbound lanes of Interstate 75 are shut down this evening near Botkins in Shelby County.

The highway is closed at I-75 N at Ohio 274.

A medical helicopter has been called to the crash scene, and the crash resulted in significant vehicle damage, according to initial reports.