Missouri still has obstacles to prescription drug monitoring program

2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago April 13, 2017 Apr 13, 2017 Thursday, April 13 2017 Thursday, April 13, 2017 2:56:00 PM CDT in News
By: Max Diekneite, KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY – After years of fighting, filibusters and failure, Missouri - the only state in the nation that does not have a prescription drug monitoring program – appears set to join the rest of the country in adding what supporters call life-saving legislation.

On Thursday morning, a public hearing was held inside the state’s Capitol to discuss the the program. Among the attendees was the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston. She said she feels confident after six years of bringing forth similar legislation that the bill will finally become a law.

“It's a very delicate process we're in right now, but I'm hopeful that we have come to an agreement," Rehder said. 

Thursday’s meeting comes after the House recently passed the measure, 104-54, sending it to the Senate. The bill’s main opponent, Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph - a physician himself – spent the past six years doing everything he could to keep the bill from coming to a vote in the Senate, going as far as to stand on the floor for hours in protest. 

But last Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the House passed the bill, Schaaf shocked the Missouri political scene, announcing he had changed his position, and would vote in favor of Rehder’s bill.

Schaaf declined an interview with KOMU Thursday. 

The senator's new-found support does come with a minor provision: Rehder must amend the bill, and make it mandatory that all doctors actually use the database.

The proposed amendment has some people upset. Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, fears the amendment could lead to more doctors getting sued.

“That means, if they don't do it, that is a suable event. That's malpractice. If you do not do standard of care with patients, you are open to a lawsuit," White said. 

While White seems to be in the minority, the bill isn’t a sure thing just yet. If the amendment to require doctors to use the program is added to the current bill, it will have to be voted on in the House again. This year, Rehder’s House bill faced the most opposition it has faced in years, and that number could climb.

Gov. Eric Greitens has publicly said he is in favor of the state passing a prescription drug monitoring bill, and that he plans to sign it into law if it reaches his desk.

 

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