Also on Wednesday the Ohio House passed two bills targeting sex traffickers.
Sub House Bill 276, sponsored by state Reps. Jena Powell, R-Arcanum, and Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, creates the criminal offense of receiving the proceeds of prostitution. Introduced nearly a year ago, it passed a House committee this month, and cleared the House 81-4. The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate.
Schmidt told the story of an unnamed 12-year-old girl from Dayton who was prostituted by a relative who used the money to buy drugs. The girl was rescued, but there was no charge specifically for the relative getting that money, she said. Thus Attorney General Dave Yost’s office asked Powell to submit this bill, Schmidt said.
The bill would make receiving such money a third-degree felony.
“If that victim is a minor, that will become a second-degree felony,” Schmidt said. The charge would not apply to the trafficking victim, but would make it easier for authorities to tie ‘the pimp’ to the crime, she said.
House members also unanimously approved House Bill 390, which requires police to offer rape kits for testing of sex trafficking victims and retain for testing any such kits already obtained. The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate.
Sponsored by state Reps. Laura Lanese, R-Grove City, and Marilyn John, R-Shelby, the bill was introduced in August and approved by a committee this month.
John said current law doesn’t require providing such tests to victims. The testing would be voluntary, she said.
State Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, said the bill also will require police to check their evidence records for any previously obtained test kits, potentially helping to identify more traffickers.
A bill to require insurers to accept any type of financial assistance to apply toward a patient’s drug deductible or coinsurance passed the Ohio House unanimously. The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate.
Many people are unable to afford the high prices of lifesaving drugs for which there are no generic equivalents, said state Rep. Susan Manchester, R-Waynesfield, who sponsored the bill with state Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton. Then they’re blindsided by insurance deductibles they thought had been covered, she said.
West said the bill would ensure that insurance companies accept copay coupons, family contributions or church assistance toward that deductible cost.
Manchester and West introduced House Bill 135 in February 2021 and it passed a House committee this month.
Exempted from the bill would be situations where a generic drug exists, but a doctor prescribes the name-brand version without it being medically necessary, according to a state Legislative Service Commission analysis. It also wouldn’t make insurance cover a drug that is not already covered. Insurers could still withdraw coverage of a drug if doing so wouldn’t violate any other laws or regulations, according to the analysis.
Manchester said a dozen states have passed similar bills and two dozen more are considering it.