Legislative Alert: HB 614 ‘The Prescription Drug Monitoring Act’

The following is from my good friend and colleague Jason Pye via his blog, JasonPye.com: (Note here that ‘tomorrow’ refers to TODAY, Monday, March 30 2009, as this post was written last night.)

Tomorrow, the Georgia Senate Rules Committee, and possibly the entire Georgia Senate, will consider HB 614, the “Georgia Prescription Monitoring Program Act” which would establish a state surveillance system for the monitoring of prescribing and dispensing of certain medications (Schedules II, III, IV, or V). Included in the database would be most pain relievers, anxiety medications, sleep aids, anti-diarrheals, and anything containing Codeine such as Robitussin.

This bill is bad social and fiscal policy and it violates the privacy and due process rights of Georgia citizens enumerated in the Georgia Constitution.

This bill is bad social policy because it allows government intrusion and second-guessing of the doctor-patient relationship. It treats Georgia citizens not as civilized people but as children who need to be monitored and controlled.

Also, as noted by the American Cancer Society, several studies indicate that prescription monitoring programs have a “chilling effect” on healthcare professionals’ prescribing of needed medication to legitimate pain patients for fear of being investigated by law enforcement.

This law is also bad fiscal policy. Once the initial federal funding for this program has run out, Georgia citizens will be left to foot the bill, which the U.S. Dept. of Justice estimates to cost the state up to $1 million annually. In our current economic crisis, this is not only fiscally irresponsible, it is downright immoral. Moreover, this program will not withstand judicial scrutiny and a lawsuit in its defense will cost the taxpayers that much more money.

This bill also violates the privacy and due process rights of Georgia citizens. It gives the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency access to the private medical records of Georgia citizens without probable cause.
Under Georgia law, no law enforcement official can lawfully obtain any part of a Georgia citizen’s medical record without first obtaining the patient’s consent or a court order, such as a search warrant or a subpoena. In Johnson v. State, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that “the State is not entitled to exercise indiscriminate subpoena power as an investigative substitute for procedural devices otherwise available to it in the criminal context, such as a search warrant.”

In King v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court reiterated that “In this state, privacy is considered a fundamental constitutional right and is ‘recognized as having a value so essential to individual liberty in our society that [its] infringement merits careful scrutiny by the courts.’” It also noted that “[p]ermitting the State unlimited access to medical records for the purposes of prosecuting the patient would have the highly oppressive effect of chilling the decision of any and all Georgians to seek medical treatment.”

There are alternative, much more reasonable methods of accomplishing the same ends of this legislation without the egregious constitutional violations of this bill’s means. Please stand up for our privacy and due process rights. Please do not pave the way for Orwell’s big-government 1984. Please vote “NO” on HB 614.

This is a very well written piece that says everything I would have thought to say and more. I’m going to add a ‘SWGA Politics feel’ to it with this, and I close:

Because of everything Jason just said, I must most strenuously OPPOSE this measure.


Call or email your Senator NOW.


3 Responses

  1. While I haven’t heard their official meaning for this bill (it’s always something benign), the ramifications of this have very far reaching effects. Our rights have been slowly eroded away based on these benign ideas to the point that people are used to giving away their freedoms.

    Obama’s health care plan, which this database plan appears based on, opens so many doors that needs to stay closed. Government has no place in my health care decisions at all!

  2. There are laws in place! We don’t need new laws! Sell drugs and the DEA, police have laws to bust you! This will just place information on a website about the patients personal information as well as medical records! The police should do there jobs and not take rights away from people!

  3. Forgot to mention, that if you are flagged, no one is allowed to talk to you about it or they can be charged with a felony. So a doctor pulls your record and sees that you have been flagged. He can’t even talk to you to see if it was a mistake, or that someone just didn’t like your attitude at the pharmacy and put some fake information. Or someone at another pharmacy got the wrong driver’s license number and some drug was bought under your name. See how this go totally wrong, and no one but the DEA has any right to do anything with it. This needs to go before the supreme court.

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