Legislature likely to tweak, clarify and limit last year’s ‘pill mill bill’

State lawmakers could narrow the focus of last year’s “pill mill bill” during the legislative session that begins tomorrow, to concentrate on adults with long-term prescriptions for frequently abused painkillers, John Cheves of the Lexington Herald-Leader reported yesterday. Doctors, hospitals and patients have complained that HB 1 in its current from “restricts too many drugs in too many clinical settings, needlessly complicating medical care in an effort to shut down storefront pain clinics that recklessly hand out prescriptions,” Cheves writes.

Under the law, people with long-term prescriptions for controlled substances must submit to urine drug testing to determine if they are actually taking the drug rather than selling it, and if other unprescribed drugs are in their systems. Some patients complained they were being charges hundreds of dollars for urine tests because their insurance companies denied coverage of such testing. One couple was charged more than $900 for tests to get prescriptions for insomnia and anti-anxiety medication.

The new rules, being drafted by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, would reduce the mandate for drug screening to pain medicine prescriptions of 90 days or more. Other medications would not require testing unless the doctor thinks it’s necessary. The new rules will say that other types of testing which would be cheaper, including hair, could be used. The board is also restricting its focus to powerful painkillers, including hydrocodone and oxycodone.

The new regulations are subject to approval by the legislature, which could write its own restrictions into law, but the consensus appears to be that the law needs tweaking, not major changes. for example, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said it should be changed to clarify that hospitals don’t have to run a new background check on a patient every time they give another dose of a controlled substance during his stay. (Read more)

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