KMA president still concerned with pill bill, says lawmakers needed more input from doctors

05/16/2012 04:20 PM

The group representing many Kentucky doctors says it’s still concerned about the bill the General Assembly passed last month that’s aimed at tighter regulation of prescription pain pills.

Specifically, the Kentucky Medical Association continues to lobby against moving the KASPER prescription monitoring system from the Health and Family Services Cabinet to the attorney general’s office. While the new law doesn’t do that, Gov. Steve Beshear could decide to shift it to the attorney general’s office by executive order. KMA President Dr. Shawn Jones of Paducah said on Pure Politics that the organization believes that would allow more unfettered access by law enforcement that could lead to violations of medical privacy.

“I wouldn’t say I would think that was the intent of the attorney general. But they would have free access to the data at any time on a personal and individualized basis. And that would include not just what you would consider narcotics but medications such as Xanax and Valium,” he said (3:00).

Find out what he says when asked wether medical privacy laws would penalize those who violate medical privacy rules. (4:00)

And hear how Jones answers questions about the best way the bill could have taken on rogue doctors who have essentially used their prescription pads to deal drugs (5:15)

Allison Martin, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said the governor still hasn’t made a decision whether KASPER will remain the health cabinet or be moved to the attorney general’s office. Initial discussions between the two offices so far have focused on how to implement the specific provisions that are in the law.

“But if the General Assembly had moved it, of course the investigators who would work with the system would be covered by HIPAA (health privacy) guidelines. It’s illegal to share people’s health records that are private and privileged,” she said. The attorney general’s office, if it does end up overseeing the KASPER system, would include the same checks and balances that are used in the health cabinet, such as a log to track which employees access it, Martin said.

Jones also responded to lawmakers, including Democratic state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, who have said the KMA might have hurt its standing with lawmakers because of the stances it took during negotiations over the prescription pill bill.

“We wanted to be part of the solution. In fact, we felt sometimes as though the legislators didn’t want to listen to what we had to say,” Jones said. (1:00)

Jones wouldn’t say whether the organization plans to mobilize doctors to get involved in legislative elections this fall.

“It’s important to keep a dialogue,” he said (2:15 of the second video). “I think their efforts have been well intentioned … but like I don’t know a lot about the law, they don’t a lot about medicine and they get lost in the details of the difference between chronic and acute pain.”

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