Posts Tagged ‘legislation’

Missouri: Time to monitor prescription drugs

March 12, 2017


One might guess that being the only state without something may not be a good distinction to have. In the case of the map to the left they would be correct. Missouri, highlighted here, is the only state to not have a prescription drug monitoring program or PDMP. PDMPs are tools used by doctors to look up what narcotic and potentially addictive drugs like opioid medications a patient receives in the hopes of stopping those that are abusing them or selling them. Deaths due to opioid and heroin have reached epidemic proportions; Missouri needs a PDMP.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose and since 1999 the amount of pain medication sold has quadrupled! On its website the CDC even recognizes how important PDMPs can be to reducing prescription drug deaths.

Countless other organizations such as mental health groups, drug policy think-tanks and physician groups, including the nation’s largest doctor group, the American Medical Association, have come out in support of states establishing these databases. One scientific study showed that using PDMP reduced the supply and abuse of opioid medications.

Why then does Missouri not have one? The answer lies with political action groups and conservative statesman that have blocked legislative efforts that create PDMPs. United for Missouri and Missouri Alliance for Freedom both believe that legislation like this erodes a citizen’s right to privacy and constitutes government over-regulation. Their biggest ally, State Senator Robert Schaaf, has gone so far as to filibuster bills that introduce them.

The truth is the people of Missouri must establish programs that have decreased opioid deaths. Senator Schaaf should stand down and the legislature should join the rest of the nation in establishing a prescription drug monitoring program




Potholes? The Proposed Pilot Program in Michigan To Drug Test Medicaid Applicants Just Hit One

August 14, 2015
Healthy Michigan Campaign

Healthy Michigan Campaign Launched Gov. Snyder 2013

Michigan’s vital economy centers around the automotive industry which has struggled since the mid 1990’s to rebound. Our struggling economy is apparent in our critical infrastructures–bridges and roads– that are crumbling in disrepair, leading to a loss of $ 1 Billion annually in our Michigan transportation assets.  Many residents have suffered layoffs, hard times, and gaps in healthcare.  Michigan initially focused on concrete ways to repair our economy and added 600,000 residents to the medically insured road with the “Healthy Michigan Campaign in 2013”. By 2015, the war on poverty had shifted to war on the  impoverished themselves with passage of SB 275 and HB 4118.

This bill permits a one yearlong pilot program in 3 Michigan counties to drug test Medicaid applicants and recipients suspected of illicit drug use. If the individual tests positive, they will be required to enter a substance abuse treatment program. If the person refuses drug testing, the benefits would be cut off for six months. If the person tests positive a second time, they will lose benefits for another six months. Michigan has previous legal notoriety for imposing drug testing of welfare recipients in 2000 which was struck down as unconstitutional by the US Court of Appeals in 2003 violating the 4th amendment. Gov. Snyder states that in 2015, new data is needed to identify suspected substance abusers who would benefit from treatment so “we can remove the barriers that are keeping people from getting good jobs, supporting their families and living independently.” No other group that receives State of Michigan support is part of this pilot program.

Drug testing welfare recipients as a condition of Medicaid eligibility is a policy that is scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound.  Welfare recipients are no more likely to use illegal drugs than the rest of the population. Science and medical experts oppose drug testing of welfare recipients because of limited utility and creation of stigma. Drug testing is expensive. Data gathered by ThinkProgress showed 7 states spent over $1 million dollars and all but one (8.3%) had a positive drug test rate of welfare applicants below 1% with a national drug use rate at 9.4% in the general population. In addition, drug testing suspected substance abusers is ineffective to uncover drug abuse. A 1998 Oklahoma study found a questionnaire was cheaper and more effective than drug testing to detect drug use including alcohol.

In 2015, at least 18 states have introduced proposals that would require drug screening or testing for public assistance applicants or recipients. Fixing our state roads and bridges is more fiscally prudent than drug testing Medicaid recipients to remove barriers; this pilots program lacks, scientific, financial or constitutional merit. It is time to revisit the validity of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that authorized, but did not require, states to impose mandatory drug testing as a prerequisite to receiving state welfare assistance. Michigan, for one, has hit a damaging pothole that could deter people who desperately need health care, including women and children, from a “Healthy Michigan–Saving lives. Strengthening Our State”.

A Sound Decision? Virginia passes mandatory ultrasound House Bill 462

March 12, 2012

In what falls under “informed-consent” legislation, there is a proposed Virginia state bill that would require women seeking an abortion in early stages of their pregnancies to undergo an invasive type of ultrasound. This procedure would be mandated in order to receive an abortion. In some states it is even stricter, requiring that the woman listen to the heartbeat and look at the ultrasound (Texas). Opponents of the bill state that the procedure is unnecessarily invasive. Six other states that currently mandate ultrasounds and offer the opportunity for women to view the image include: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana and Missouri (a seventh state, Texas, requires that women receive both receive the ultrasound and view the image, then wait 24 hours).

On February 21, 2012, Governor McDonnell asked lawmakers to revise the bill in order to mandate that “abdominal” ultrasounds, instead of “transvaginal” ultrasounds, be performed before an abortion. This additional requirement must be financially supported by the women seeking abortions and increases the cost of the procedure. Women of lower socio-economic status may be subject to financial discrimination. To date, no professional medical organization recommends such a mandate in order to improve patient health and safety measures.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Flip-Flops


At first, Gov. McDonnell supported the bill that mandated all women seeking abortions to undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound to determine how far along the pregnancy was.
However, that didn’t go over well with his platform base and as it is an election year he withdrew his support. He cited that it was too “intrusive” and that “No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.”

The Sad Outcome
On Wednesday March 7, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the revised controversial bill into law despite four protests outside the Virginia State Capitol and a petition with 33,000 signatures. Executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Tarina Keene, had this statement: The bill is an unprecedented invasion of privacy and government intrusion into the doctors’ offices and living rooms of Virginia women.”

You Can Still Take Action
Although this amended bill just passed it is never too late to overturn a bill that puts unlawful restrictions on women and their medical rights. In an election year, if a senator gets enough calls citing outrage over an issue that he supported, it could make its way to the top of his priority list.