Wednesday, February 27, 2013

NCOIL to Take Up Model Rx Legislation

While the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) ultimately decided to punt on the issue of model legislation for the control of narcotic prescriptions, another national group of industry folks has decided to take on the task.

I applaud the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL)'s and their Workers' Compensation Insurance Committee which will hold a special meeting with the Workers’ Health, Long-Term Care and Health Retirement Issues Committee on March 8 to consider developing a model law to address opioid-related concerns, including costs to the workers’ compensation system.

IAIABC, after a year of work on model legislation, earlier this month announced it would not release draft rules because, "it was determined that adopting model legislation and regulation on opioid use could be interpreted as too narrow and restrictive for jurisdictions."

But Tennessee Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparata, the president of NCOIL, told WorkCompCentral that the NCOIL committees had expected to be reviewing a national model proposed by IAIABC. Now, while the committees likely will look at IAIABC’s draft efforts, they also plan to look at what individual states have done or are considering.

The issue of control over abuse of prescription drugs has, as you likely know, gained national attention and concern. There are calls for enhancement not only to legislation on narcotics prescriptions but also drug monitoring systems.

California lawmakers are considering a bill to supplement the funding of the state's CURES system by over $3 million to bring it more into acceptance by intended users.

In 2012 legislation was passed in Kentucky making it mandatory for doctors to register and use the state monitoring program known as the Kentucky All Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER), before prescribing controlled substances. The two NCOIL committees will look at the Kentucky model closely according to the report.

Vermont Rep. William Botzow, R-Bennington, chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Committee, said that “at this time, we (the committee) need to further educate ourselves” on possible options for legislation. But Botzow said NCOIL is seeing “more and more interest” from its members and other lawmakers on the opioid issue.

Fortunately IAIABC did a lot of the work towards model legislation so NCOIL does not have to reinvent the wheel. There are other states that have seen positive results from their attempts at controlling prescription drugs in both the workers' compensation context and the general health context, and those states can assist the NCOIL committees in constructing the right package.

For states that are experiencing prescription drug control issues NCOIL's work will be welcome and will provide a national forum for the debate on how to properly implement effective controls on narcotics and prescription drug distribution.

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