Calling it "a critical bill for the health and safety of Kentuckians," Governor Steve Beshear today signed House Bill 1 -- robust legislation designed to reduce the destructive impact of prescription drug abuse on Kentucky families.
"This bill is a huge accomplishment that will save Kentuckians' lives as we battle the scourge of prescription drug abuse, and I applaud the legislature for their bipartisan cooperation in passing this legislation," Gov. Beshear said. "We know the terrifying statistics about how many Kentuckians are affected by prescription drug abuse, but even more unsettling, many of us know someone personally who is battling prescription addiction. House Bill 1 couldn't get to my desk quickly enough."
House Bill 1 (HB 1), sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, passed in a special session that ended April 20 and includes a broad spectrum of aggressive measures needed to fight the problem of prescription drug abuse. The measure expands KASPER, the state's prescription monitoring system, by requiring all prescription providers to register. It requires pain management clinics to be owned by a licensed medical practitioner, and requires medical licensure boards to investigate prescribing complaints immediately. The legislation allows better coordination between health regulators and law enforcement to address problems of abuse. Finally, elements of HB 1 will help prevent Kentucky from becoming a source state for prescription pills.
"While we can never rest on our laurels, House Bill 1 represents a major step forward in the ongoing battle to put the brakes on prescription drug abuse within our borders," Rep. Stumbo said. "Now it's up to the medical community and law enforcement to put this new tool to its best use. My hope is that, a year from now, we will see that this legislation has truly saved lives and turned many others around."
Gov. Beshear was joined by Speaker Stumbo, Attorney General Jack Conway, Majority Leader Sen. Robert Stivers, Sen. Tom Jensen, House Judiciary Chair John Tilley and Tommy Loving of the Kentucky Narcotics Officers Association, as well as several advocacy groups and law enforcement organizations, for the bill signing.
"This legislation makes important strides in our efforts to combat prescription painkiller abuse. It helps keep entrepreneurs out of the pill mill business and requires doctors, with reasonable exceptions, to use the KASPER system," said Attorney General Conway. "I have made combating prescription drug abuse a top priority since my first days as Attorney General, and I will work with the Beshear Administration and the legislature to ensure the law is implemented effectively and efficiently. I encourage those who are fearful of increased oversight to end the hyperbole and begin a constructive process with the legislature and Executive Branch to implement this bill. Too many people have died. Too many people have lost loved ones. Too many families have been shattered."
"Earlier this year, I pledged to do everything I could to help keep another family from having to bury a loved one who died from prescription drug abuse," said Sen. Stivers. "The passage of House Bill 1 last week is a step in the right direction. It makes sure that people in pain can get the treatment they need and it provides oversight for doctors that overprescribe. House Bill 1 will help to begin the healing for the families that have needlessly been torn apart by this terrible epidemic."
"The Kentucky Narcotic Officers' Association applauds Governor Beshear and the General Assembly for their efforts to address the prescription drug epidemic in Kentucky," said Loving, the association's executive director. "House Bill 1 will give law enforcement additional tools to use, which should result in lives saved in Kentucky."