HB 614 to be attached to another bill

April 2, 2009 8:05 am

by Jason · 20 comments

Rumor has it that the House will attempt include the language from the HB 614, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, onto another piece of legislation sometime tomorrow or on Sine Die. Whether or not this will be done in House Rules, on the floor or during a conference committee is unclear at this time. However, it should be pointed out that the Senate defeated HB 614 on Monday evening.

Interestingly enough, the federal grant money that legislators are seeking with for this program comes from the Department of Justice, which actually admits, “Efforts to implement state prescription drug monitoring programs tend to [be met] with opposition from a variety of groups including medical associations, pharmacy groups, pharmaceutical companies, patient advocacy groups, and civil liberty groups.”

Below is video from the Senate debate on HB 614, including an excellent speech against the bill from Sen. Preston Smith. I’m also including what I posted on Monday below the cut.

I’d also like to point you to former Congressman Bob Barr’s post over at the AJC about HB 614.

At some point today, the 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.

Contact your State Senator and ask them to please stand up for our privacy and due process rights and to not pave the way for Orwell’s big-government 1984. Please vote “NO” on HB 614.

Dark Knight Begins April 2, 2009 at 8:09 am

So this time we need to contact all REPRESENTATIVES, correct?

UGALiberal April 2, 2009 at 8:42 am

I wrote my representative and put it up on my blog also. Our letters seemed to have an effect in the Senate, hopefully the House will take our concerns into consideration.

Bill Simon April 2, 2009 at 9:17 am

So, The House wants to invade the decisions on doctors prescribing medications like:

Ritalin (Schedule II)
Percocet (Schedule II)
Lyrica (Schedule V)
Lunesta (Schedule IV)

Frankly, folks, if this passes, someone’s going to have to explain to me what’s Republican about this?

Someone’s getting BIG money for sponsoring this. Sharon Cooper and Ron Stephens are the co-sponsors. Cooper is a registered nurse, and Stephens is a pharmacist.

Neither one is qualified enough to issue a prescription to treat a patient, but, apparently, they seek to devalue the role a trained physician has to do so.

In the words of comedian Lewis Black: “That’s Effed-UP!”

LibertyFetish April 2, 2009 at 9:52 am

Dark Knight,

Yes, we need to contact all representatives. This bill was misrepresented on the House floor the first time. The sponsor of the bill stated at the well that this bill is about preventing teenagers from abusing narcotics that they find in their parent’s medicine cabinets. I have talked to several State Reps who didn’t even realize they had voted for this until well after it passed. We need to let the Reps know what this bill is really about and give them a heads up that it will probably be misrepresented again.

Dark Knight Begins April 2, 2009 at 9:57 am

I have already emailed all Representatives I cover at SWGA Politics.

Dark Knight Begins April 2, 2009 at 9:59 am

Note: The original vote was 161/9, with I believe 2 ‘not voting’ and 8 excused.

Meaning by and large, your rep voted for it the first time. CONTACT THEM NOW and tell them to NOT repeat that mistake!!

bowersville April 2, 2009 at 10:04 am

I guess the BIG INTRUSIVE REPUBLICAN GOVERMENT of Georgia will arrogantly believe this is a Republican State until it is no more.

The Republicans of the US House and the US Senate believed that.

If you think this will not have a chilling effect on Medical Doctors, you better think again. If you believe the government will protect your privacy of online medical records and only use them to “do good” you are NUTS.

Bill Simon April 2, 2009 at 11:03 am

Dang…I just read the bill…I think any Republican who votes in favor of this bill should be drummed out of office. This bill could have easily been authored by the Obama Administration. In fact, I think it was.

UGALiberal April 2, 2009 at 11:56 am

My Letter to my Rep:

Doug,

Peach Pundit is reporting that HB614 might be coming back up for a vote in the House, even though it was defeated in the Senate. While I understand the purpose of HB 614 and its intent to cut back on prescription drug abuse, I think this is not the least restrictive means to do so. The American Cancer Society has also said that this type of law has a chilling effect on Doctors. I think instead we should focus on the doctor level, monitoring the doctor’s and the number and type of prescriptions that are handing them out. This bill, I fear, would allow Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency into the private medical records of the citizens. While we agree on most issue, I hope you understand my opposition to this bill. I hope you will give it more consideration before you vote if it does come back up

Dark Knight Begins April 2, 2009 at 12:36 pm

My letter to Cheokas, Dukes, Fullerton, Greene, Hanner (my rep), Buddy Harden, Jay Powell, and Rynders (in other words, all the Reps I cover at SWGA Politics):

Honorable Representatives,

I have received word that the House plans to resurrect HB 614 [in the form of an amendment for consideration tomorrow](links to this article), Sine Die. I wanted to let each of you know that I consider this bill and any similar amendments to be one of the most egregious violations of medical privacy since government decided it had a right to get involved in abortion. I most strenuously oppose this bill and and similar amendments, and I urge you NOT to violate your constituents’ right to privacy.

Also, I would highly recommend watching the this video of the Senate debate on the issue, both of Senators Smith and Shafer’s exchange as well as Senator Smith’s very eloquent speech from the well in opposition to this bill.

Thank you for your time,

Dark Knight Begins (signed with real name)

Howard Roark April 2, 2009 at 7:14 pm

My freshman Senator, Jim Butterworth voted no.

Here is how all Senators voted.

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/votes/sv0336.htm

bowersville April 3, 2009 at 8:11 am

Simon, your Political Vine newsletter is being forwarded around up here. Very well written and to the point.

If it’s allowed, could you post a link to the news letter. Every body in Georgia needs to read this one about HB 614. If not, one of those with front page posting privileges might pick it up, with your permission of course.

My Senator, Jim Butterworth voted no the first time.

Jason Pye April 3, 2009 at 8:48 am

Will you email that to me, bowersville?

bowersville April 3, 2009 at 8:57 am

Jason, you should have it by now…B-ville

John Konop April 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

The biggest winners in this bill will be gangs and drug traffickers which will move much of the business to the underground. We are just manufacturing criminals to fill the jails and court system on the tax payers’ dime. Not only is this civil liberty issue it also a financial one that we hurt all of us as well as destroy families.

Bill Simon April 3, 2009 at 9:50 am

This is the original Alert asking the question of WHO is the secret vendor behind this legislation:

http://www.emailcontact.com/nl/nl-output.php?nl_id=74579&bus_id=2125&plain=0

This is the update (and, by the way, this bill WILL have to go back to the Senate for their review if it passes the House):

http://www.emailcontact.com/nl/nl-output.php?nl_id=74593&bus_id=2125&plain=0

Bill Simon April 3, 2009 at 9:51 am

Thank you, B’ville!

Bill Simon April 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

I was glad to see my State Senator Judson Hill voted against it the first time. Hopefully, he will be aware of what happens if it comes back around today/tonight.

Jason Pye April 3, 2009 at 11:21 am

SB 56 was tabled, but it may come up again later.

Tommy McFadden April 3, 2009 at 1:33 pm

They should have gone ahead and held the vote, so it could be killed and not just tabled. Cowards.

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