FRANKFORT — Some doctors and patients in the Kentucky won’t be forced to wade through as much red tape when prescribing and receiving treatment for pain any longer.
Kentucky House Bill 217 was signed into law on Tuesday and is meant to be an amendment to what was dubbed the “pill mill bill,” HB1, passed last year.
Governor Steve Beshear said in a press release on Tuesday that since the passing of HB1 “real and substantial changes” have happened in the fight against prescription drug abuse in the state.
“Unlicensed pain management clinics have closed up shop. Prescriptions for the most addictive drugs have dropped every month since implementation,” he said.
The “pill mill bill,” sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo in 2012, aimed to make it more difficult for controlled substance abusers to obtain Schedule II and III drugs, and to crack down on doctors who were too loose with their prescription pads. The Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) system was expanded by this law, on which it is mandatory for all physicians to register all prescriptions of Schedule II and III drugs as well as follow strict guidelines for evaluations before and after the prescription was made.
Many physicians in the state were concerned that these new regulations put in place with the passing of HB 1 would hinder their ability to treat patients who were really in need of pain relief and were obviously not controlled substance abusers. HB 217, its supporters argue, has been the remedy for these concerns.
“We recognized that a few issues needed to be worked out for the comfort of the most pain-stricken patients and for the practical needs of physicians, particularly in in-patient and long-term care settings,” Beshear explained. “House Bill 217 makes those tweaks without reducing the impact of House Bill 1.”
With the passing of HB 217, doctors have more discretion in evaluating patients who are being prescribed these pain medicines, particularly to accommodate patients with acute pain management needs such as in cancer patients. Surgery patients will also have a 14-day exemption in which they will not have to go through every aspect of the evaluation, and makes the criminal record check required for licensure of those prescribing or dispensing controlled substances a law, instead of just a regulation.
The bill also allows long-term care facilities to have accounts with KASPER, as well as clarifies requirements and qualifications for physicians and certain pain management facility employees.
Stumbo praised the governor and the General Assembly Tuesday on their work on eradicating the prescription drug problem in the state.
“House Bill 217 builds on those efforts while at the same time ensuring that the law and the doctors’ own regulations are on the same page. The goal now for this partnership is to see how we can expand access to treatment,” Stumbo said.