I ran into a set of teachers at the capitol a few weeks ago who were protesting the state insurance plan. Their current plan appears to be pushing costs onto them, even as the state has been lagging in teacher pay.
To add fuel to the fire, an amendment to a drug bill added by Sen. David Shafer looks an awful lot like an end run around mail order pharmacy oversight … just as the state has been pushing teachers to use mail order pharmacies.
The bill — HB 965 — is intended to keep people who call 911 seeking treatment for a drug overdose from criminal prosecution. The public policy question seems sensible; people shouldn’t be reluctant to call an ambulance if they’re dying.
Shafer added an amendment last week that removes mail order prescription drug facilities from regulatory oversight by the State Board of Pharmacy. As it happens, the state’s insurance provider has been pushing teachers to use mail order drug providers as a cost saving device.
Last year, Georgia changed the law to require nonresident pharmacy permits for “any person, pharmacy, or facility” located outside of Georgia that wants to “ship, mail, or deliver dispensed drugs, including but not limited to dangerous drugs and controlled substances, into this state.” The Georgia Board of Pharmacy was to oversee enforcement for those nonresident pharmacies, and after the effective enforcement date set by the Georgia Board, it would be unlawful for any unlicensed person, pharmacy, or facility to ship, mail, advertise or deliver prescription drug orders to Georgia residents.
If the amendment is adopted as it stands … not so much.
Kyle Williams, running for the state senate in Jason Carter’s former district, called out the effect of this change on teachers in a release earlier today. (I’m told his opponent missed the Cover Georgia rally … along with every other candidate.) “Without the oversight of the State Board of Pharmacy, mail order facilities will be able to send perishable prescriptions like insulin to patients without having to use safety measures to make sure the medication is not subject to extreme temperatures. If a prescription is lost or damaged in delivery, a mail order facility could deny responsibility and charge full replacement costs.” The release is below the fold.
But the amendment also looks like an end-run around licensing requirements for out-of-state pharmacies.
Kyle Williams Candidate for Senator District 42 Calls on Georgia Senate to Stop Playing Politics with Teachers’ Healthcare
On March 5, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee played politics with our health and welfare adding dangerous language to the Medical Amnesty Law – HB 965. As originally introduced, HB 965 provides immunity from certain arrests, charges, or criminal prosecutions for people seeking medical assistance for a drug overdose. HB 965 was intended to remove the fear of criminal prosecution from calling 9-1-1 to seek medical assistance. HB 965 as introduced was a good bill and would save lives – until politics interjected itself.
The language in the amendment offered by Senator David Shafer amended HB 965 to remove mail order facilities that ship prescription drugs completely from any regulatory oversight of the State Board of Pharmacy. This change will have far reaching implications for anyone that receives their medications through the mail.
Without the oversight of the State Board of Pharmacy, mail order facilities will be able to send perishable prescriptions like insulin to patients without having to use safety measures to make sure the medication is not subject to extreme temperatures. If a prescription is lost or damaged in delivery, a mail order facility could deny responsibility and charge full replacement costs.
This amendment will have devastating impacts on our teachers and state employees because under the new benefits plan their insurer aggressively pushes its members to exclusively fill their prescriptions through these mail order facilities.
My mother works as an education assistant at a public school. As Chair of the Decatur Education Foundation, I know firsthand that we must make sure that we respect our school teachers and state employees. These public servants must have benefit packages that allow them to stay healthy and make plans for the future, not expose them to greater health risks and increased costs for prescription medicines. This is my priority. I encourage you to speak out against this bad amendment. Please call the Chairman of Senate Rules, Senator Jeff Mullis to express your concerns about the amendment.
The Senate should not play politics with our health and saving lives by tacking on dangerous amendments that will hurt teachers and state employees. If elected as Senator, District 42 can count on me to be a passionate voice and advocate putting the health and welfare of teachers and state employees above politics. I get it.