FRANKFORT — A state senator sponsoring a bill to regulate pain clinics said the measure is "a work in progress," but he expects that a Senate committee will vote on it next week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard more testimony Thursday on Senate Bill 100, including from two officials of The Pain Treatment Center of the Bluegrass in Lexington who urged lawmakers not to harm pain-management centers that are doing a good job.
The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, said he does not want "any unintended consequences" for reputable pain clinics, "but, to make this bill work, every provider is going to be inconvenienced somewhat."
The bill regulates pain-management clinics and requires doctors to use the state's electronic prescription monitoring system.
It mandates that pain clinics be owned by physicians who have not had their licenses revoked and do not face pending license action in other states.
Also, doctors would have to report the prescriptions they dispense to the state's monitoring system within 24 hours.
Overprescribing of pain medication has become a major problem in Kentucky, where more people now die from overdoses than from car wrecks.
A co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, said an average of 82 people die each month in Kentucky from prescription drug abuse.
Gov. Steve Beshear has called for legislation to control the problem and is working with Attorney General Jack Conway and House Speaker Greg Stumbo on a separate bill in the House to deal with the problem.
Heather C. Wright, chief executive and legal counsel of The Pain Treatment Center of the Bluegrass, and Kathleen M. Luchtefeld, general counsel and human resources director of the physician-owned clinic, told committee members that they share their concern about "pill mills."
But they said they are concerned the bill might hurt well-managed clinics.
"Patients are concerned that they are going to lose access to legitimate pain-management clinics," Luchtefeld said.
Also Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 58, which would allow police to make an arrest for assaults in an emergency room even if the officer did not view the offense.