Today, Gov. Steve Beshear again called on legislators to pass a bill Thursday that would crack down on so-called pill mills and thus curb prescription drug abuse. Speaking at the National Prescription Drug Abuse Summit in Orlando, Beshear asked for comprehensive collaboration to fight the problem, which kills more Americans than car accidents.
"No state or community is an island. It will take all of us — working across geographical and agency borders — to make headway against prescription drug abuse," he said.
The three-day summit is sponsored by Operation UNITE, which serves Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District, and features 100 leaders and experts, including Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske, Fifth District Rep. Hal Rogers, and Centers for Disease Control Principal Deputy Director Illeana Arias.
Beshear outlined what has already been implemented in Kentucky to combat the problem, including working with Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia to identify those who exploit the system by crossing state borders and forming a panel of health professionals to develop criteria to identify suspicious drug-prescribing habits. But he also stressed the importance of passing House Bill 4, which would require pain clinics to be owned by doctors, require doctors to participate in the state's prescription-tracking system, and move the system to the attorney general's office from the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
The latter provision continues to draw opposition from the Kentucky Medical Association, which is lobbying hard to make changes to the bill, or perhaps kill it. Beshear has been touting the bill, considered the cornerstone of this year's General Assembly, since before it was filed. Al Cross, director of the University of Kentucky's Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, said on KET's "Comment on Kentucky" Friday night that if the bill does not pass, the legislative session will be a failure. (Read more)