Bright and early tomorrow morning, the House Judiciary (Non-Civil) Committee will hold a hearing on a privacy-infringing bill, SB 36, once known then as the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, which would establish a database that would to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of certain prescription drugs. Similar legislation was killed by State Senate in 2009. An effort to revive the bill was blocked in the House on the last day of the session that same year. The clock ran out last year before it could be approved.
Sen. Buddy Carter is pushing the bill again this year with a little help from the Obama Administration. Carter has purposefully renamed the bill the “Patient Safety Act” to make it more palatable to the public; you know, since a bill titled the “Prescription Drug Monitoring Act” sounds like something out of 1984.
No amount of monitoring is going to prevent the sale of prescription drugs. Despite the extraordinary steps taken to prevent the sale of illegal drugs, they are just as readily available today as they were twenty years ago – if not more so. The database may come with the best of intentions, but they essentially treat everyone as a criminal to find a small number of criminals. And in doing so, bypass basic protections by obtaining private medical information without a warrant.
Advocates of these monitoring programs also claim that the cost of running them will not fall on Georgians. Yes, it’s true that the federal government, which is projected to run a deficit of $1.7 trillion this fiscal year, will fund them with grants – but only initially. The burden of funding will fall on the state legislature after a few years. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott, a health care executive, urging repeal of his state’s prescription drug monitoring database due to privacy concerns and the inevitability of the state having to fund it once federal grant money dries up.
It’s funny, when ObamaCare was passed last year. Republicans claimed that it would interfere with doctor-patient relationships, etc. But when pushing a bill that could cause doctors to under-prescribe patients because of the fear that they could be tied to someone that is doctor shopping. While this concern will be downplayed, it’s a serious issue that has ruined careers and caused patients to suffer unnecessarily. This issue was highlighted in February of last year by John Stossel on his Fox Business Channel show:
The Republican Party is the party of limited government and personal responsibility and freedom. Well, that’s what they tell us every two years when they’re running for re-election. As most of us know, this just ain’t true. At best you can argue that Republicans are slightly better than Democrats, but at this point I’m not sure that is a sound argument anymore.