Prescription drug monitoring program conversations return to Capitol

9 months 4 weeks 1 day ago Wednesday, January 25 2017 Jan 25, 2017 Wednesday, January 25, 2017 3:22:00 PM CST January 25, 2017 in News
By: Meg Hilling, KOMU 8 Reporter

JEFFERSON CITY - The battle over a statewide prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri continues to wage in Jefferson City, following the presentation of two bills before a Senate committee Wednesday.

Heard before the Health and Pensions Committee, Senate Bills 74 and 231 both propose the creation of a statewide program that would track the prescribing of addictive drugs such as opiates, but with varying restrictions on who and how the data could be accessed.

SB 231, also known as the Narcotics Control Act, sponsored by Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, would allow easier access to the information collected, as Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services would act as the mediator of the data. The bill received strong support from physicians and others during Wednesday's hearing.

Schatz said "more information makes them more effective as doctors." Schatz said of the ability of SB 231 to provide doctors easy access to their patients prescription histories.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, however, has been a strong proponent of having tight access restrictions to the data collected under such as program, citing numerous privacy concerns.

"With a user name and password, you are not going to just get all of that data and you are just going to get an indication whether there is a problem,"  said Schaaf of his version of program, SB 74, also known as the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act.

Missouri is the only state in the country that has not implemented a monitoring program. However, as the result of local legislation, various cities and counties such as the St. Louis and Jackson County, have enacted programs of their own. Others, such as Columbia, are in the process of considering doing so.

"I expect many more counties move ... forward with it, if the state does not take the lead in this," Schatz said. 

This is not the first time prescription drug monitoring legislation has made it's way into the Capitol during session.

Legislation regarding the program has made appearances in both chambers in recent years. In 2016, Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, brought the program to the House of Representatives, saw it passed there, but then had it stalled in the senate by Schaaf.

Following the conclusion Wednesday's hearing, Schaaf, who chaired the committee hearing, called his own bill to a vote. It passed, and the next step would be a hearing on the senate floor. No vote, however, was called for SB 231, leaving it in limbo in the committee for now.

Schatz, in an effort to preserve his proposal, has already refiled the legislation.

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