Technically speaking, Missouri is closer to setting up a statewide prescription drug monitoring program with the state Senate passing a bill Thursday.
Realistically, however, Missouri won't be joining the rest of the United States in setting up such a program this year unless the two chambers agree to allow doctors and other health professionals to access a patient’s prescription records.
It’s a stalemate that’s several years in the making.
Allowing physicians to access those records is absolutely necessary for such a program to work, according to Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, the primary sponsor of this session’s — and last session's — House proposal.
“When it comes to prescribing safely so that you know they’re not giving us something that is going to counteract with something that we’re already taking,” she said, “(it’s) also (important) to be able to spot those signs of addiction early on before we’ve gotten so far down the path of addiction that we’re moving on to heroin or meth.”
But Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph maintains that would violate a patient’s constitutional right to privacy, and he’s unwilling to bend on that point.
The Missouri State Medical Association, which represents more than 6,500 physicians, opposes his bill, known as PDMP, as indicated by the following tweet:
Schaaf denies that.
“This gives physicians and providers all of the information (they need),” he said Thursday.
His bill passed on a 20-13 vote Thursday. The measure now goes to the House.
Last session, Rehder’s proposal made it through the House on a close vote (87-66), but died in the Senate thanks to a filibuster threat from Schaaf.
She is confident that this session’s proposal has more support, and cites local governments that have taken the issue into their own hands.
The city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County are among the places that have set up their own monitoring programs.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill issued a statement Friday in support of Rehder's bill, saying it'll make "a real difference in saving Missouri lives."
If Schaaf and Rehder cannot come to some sort of agreement, it appears the only chance a prescription drug monitoring program has of passing will be when Schaaf leaves office in 2019 due to term limits.
Pennsylvania was the 49th state to create a prescription drug monitoring program in 2014.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport