A measure that would institute a statewide prescription drug monitoring program is one step closer to reality after it passed out of the Missouri House and is heading to the Senate where it could still faces potential roadblocks.
While close to 90% of Missouri’s counties, including Buchanan, have opted into a pill monitoring program out of St. Louis County, Missouri remains the only state in the U.S. without a statewide prescription monitoring database.
State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, said the program most counties are using stores the data in St. Louis and doesn’t have statewide safeguards in place.
“I actually think the more conservative approach is to ensure that people’s privacy and constitutional rights are protected at the state level, and having a state PDMP (prescription drug monitoring program) accomplishes all those things while also giving doctors the ability to cut down on opioid abuse and pill shopping,” the Republican said.
Luetkemeyer said his version of the drug monitoring program, Senate Bill 677, probably will be heard by the Senate before the House version.
“That bill actually went through the committee I chair, which is the Judiciary Committee, and we passed that bill out of committee,” he said. “And so the senate version of the bill is already on the senate calendar.”
Luetkemeyer said he is hopeful that the measure will finally reach the legislative finish line, especially since the proposal is being taken up earlier in the session compared to years prior.
“Last year, the bill ended up getting brought up so late during the session that it was very easy to filibuster and stop the bill,” he said. “One of the advantages of having legislation come up in February is that we can spend a couple of days on a single legislative item if one of the senators decides to filibuster the bill. That is not an option during the last two weeks of session when time is really critical and the clock is ticking to get all the other important legislation across the finish line.”
House lawmakers voted 98-56 to pass their version of the bill. It now sits in the Senate, where Republican Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin said she and other members of the Conservative Caucus are prepared to stand and speak against the bill for hours.
“Everything about it is bad,” O’Laughlin said.
“Morally, I’m just totally against it,” she said. “There’s not a lot of things that I can say I feel that way, but this is one of them.”
”I think there’s definitely gonna be some, some protracted debate on this,” Luetkemeyer said.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden said Missouri’s continued status as the sole holdout could help push the bill over the finish line this year. And he said even if his colleagues have privacy concerns with a government database of medical information, they should be motivated to take action as lawmakers in the face of a county government-controlled program that’s effectively serving most of the state.
“There just comes a point where we’re all going to have to be big boys and girls and make tough decisions,” Rowden said.