Kentucky Legislature Tackles Pain Management Facilities

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FRANKFORT Pain Treatment Center of the Bluegrass CEO Heather Wright testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the possible consequences of legislation that would further regulate pain medicine clinics and their providers.

At issue were Senate Bills 42 and 100, ultimately revised and consolidated into SB2, which propeses legislation to define and regulate pain management facilities in Kentucky.

Wright testified that while some of the bill’s provisions would be beneficial to Kentucky doctors and healthcare consumers, others still caused concern. Among those – the ownership of pain management facilities and whether that ownership should be restricted to licensed physicians.

Wright said, “We agree that each practice should, at a minimum, employ a physician medical director who actively participates or consults in the management process, but to completely exclude non-physicians from having any interest in a management, operations and/or administrative capacity is overly restrictive.”

Wright also took issue at the bills attempt to prohibit pain management facilities from employing previously encumbered physicians. She stated that this was a large concern as such a statute could “unjustly restrict the ability to practice for any physician who might have previously and successfully been treated for their own substance abuse problem, and fails to recognize the important and necessary work and oversight already done by the KBML and the Kentucky Physicians Health Foundation. Such restrictions would seem to run afoul of the ADA as it pertains to individuals who are in recovery.”

In one of the session’s liveliest moments, Wright addressed concerns about how patients pay for pain medicine services. Some legislators propose to ban cash payments altogether.

To this Wright cautioned, “Do not restrict patients’ ability to use cash as a form of payment for services; this unnecessarily restricts and burdens patients from using a legal form of tender.

“Cash is a legal tender being paid for legitimate medical services; practitioners accepting cash in exchange for prescriptions are already operating outside of the law, and these unscrupulous practitioners can and should be prosecuted as such. This places an unnecessary restriction on legitimate patients, particularly those who have lost their insurance but require ongoing treatment.

“If there is concern regarding “cash and carry” medications, then cash payment restrictions would be more appropriately aimed at the medication point-of-sale, i.e. pharmacies or dispensers of controlled substances.”

The latest version of this legislation, SB2, is awaiting debate by the Senate. The Kentucky House created its version of legislation, House Bill 4, which has been sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee for debate.

In one of the session’s liveliest moments, Wright addressed concerns about how patients pay for pain medicine services. Some legislators propose to ban cash payments altogether.