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Pill bill a success

Published 9:45 pm Saturday, March 9, 2013

We are often quick to criticize legislators. Lets face it they are easy targets.

But in the case of the bill to refine the prescription drug law, often called the pill mill bill, the members of the Kentucky House and the Kentucky Senate are to be commended.

In fact, the bill is a shining example of how things should work in government.

The original bill, passed during the 2012 legislative session, sought to curb abuse by doctors practicing medicine by writing prescriptions. It cracked down on pain management clinics and required doctors to use the states prescription drug tracking system.

The tracking system was expanded under the bill, requiring doctors to report all prescriptions of Schedule II and III drugs.

No bill is going to completely eradicate drug abuse, but since House Bill 1 became law last year, numerous pill-dispensing clinics in the state have been forced to close.

But, also since it became law, the medical community brought to the attention of lawmakers problems associated with the new regulations in regard to patient requirements.

Complaints were the legislation made the system more complicated and forced prescriptions for drugs at times when they were not necessary, such as during surgery.

As House Speaker Greg Stumbo said, there were some unintended consequences.

House Bill 217 exempts hospitals and long-term care facilities from requirements for issuing prescriptions, and creates a 14-day exemption for patients during surgery. It also allows doctors more leeway in deciding which patients may receive pain medicines.

When Gov. Steve Beshear signed HB 217 Tuesday, it was only the second bill passed into law during this session.

Whether much has been accomplished during the session is a topic for another discussion. But in the case of HB 217, it proves what legislators can accomplish when they work for the betterment of all Kentuckians.