A bill that went virtually unnoticed during the 2012 legislative session is unhealthy news for Kentucky doctors and their patients.
House Bill 1, passed during the bonus legislative session – sessions which have cost Kentucky tax payers well over $4 million since 2002 – forces doctors to go through a government database before prescribing pain medication to patients. This bill covers not only Kentuckians who visit their family doctor for chronic pain, but also children of all ages and patients in emergency situations.
Although the database was already in place to help physicians make sure patients weren’t “prescription hopping” from doctor to doctor, the government did not previously force doctors to use it with the threat of losing their license, fines, or even jail time.
The problems here are many. First, it’s ridiculous to screen toddlers with painful infections or broken limbs to make sure they aren’t chronic pill addicts. Second, in emergency situations, time is the scarcest commodity. The wait at emergency rooms is long enough without having to add one-half hour to an hour waiting for approval from a poorly run government database before being allowed to administer the medication a patient requires.
Fundamentally though, this bill is an attack on the individual liberty of doctors and their patients. It is a further encroachment of the relationship between physician and client, and for lovers of free markets and individual liberty, this is never acceptable.
We will follow this issue as it develops.