FRANKFORT — Lawmakers are pleased a bill they passed last year has apparently reduced pain medication trafficking and abuse.
But they’re just as unhappy they’re hearing a lot of complaints from doctors, hospitals and patients about the unintended consequences the bill has had on legitimate users and prescribers of the drugs.
Caught in the middle is the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, which was directed to write regulations implementing the provisions of the bill written to put cash pain clinics out of business and crack down on prescribers more interested in profits than in medical care.
The KBML came under heavy criticism for failing to monitor over-prescribing by some of its members. But it quickly got on board with HB 1 and wrote emergency regulations to implement the bill and establish medical standards for prescribing the drugs.
But lawmakers immediately began hearing from patients who have legitimate medical need for the drugs who said their doctors would no longer prescribe the drugs or they faced prohibitive costs for repeated tests before they could receive pain medication.
Lawmakers declined at the end of the year to approve those regulations promulgated by KBML and others written by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, directing both to amend them to address the concerns of doctors, emergency rooms, hospitals and patients.
On Monday the board and cabinet were back in front of the Administrative Review Committee.
KBML President Dr. Preston Nunnelley told the committee his group has been “walking a very narrow line: stop abuse but ensure people who need help get it.”
One of the problems involves making a report to the state’s electronic drug tracking system, KASPER, each time a drug is prescribed or administered. That’s fine for a physician prescribing a three-month supply, but hospitals routinely prescribe such drugs for surgery, cancer or trauma injury patients and they are often dispensed by different personnel at different times.