Business leaders urge passage of prescription abuse legislation

Kentucky’s business community, through its largest trade associations, came together Monday to urge passage of HB 4 to help curb prescription drug abuse and its negative impacts on the workforce. Under HB 4, control of the state’s prescription monitoring system, KASPER, would be transferred to the Attorney General’s office and pain clinics could not be operated by anyone other than a licensed physician practicing at the facility. Another key provision will limit direct dispensing of narcotics at a physician’s office to no more than a 48-hour supply. This will help control the supply of narcotics and allow for better monitoring of prescription drug abuse.

“Controlling prescription narcotics and usage is the most important business issue remaining in the 2012 session,” said Tom Underwood, president of NFIB Kentucky and chairman of the Kentucky Small Business Caucus which represents over 40 different business groups.

The proliferation of prescription drugs cost employers through higher health insurance and workers’ compensation costs. Prescription cost increases are currently the largest cost driver in Kentucky’s workers’ compensation system. Trends suggest drugs are given out at a much faster pace, rather than utilizing other rehabilitation methods to help heal injuries and allow employees to return to work.

“Businesses large and small, rural and urban are all experiencing cost increases due to prescription drug abuse. Drug abuse is not only a social problem, it is a bottom-line business issue for Kentucky employers,” said Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “We are encouraged by the bipartisan nature of this effort and urge passage of HB 4 when the General Assembly returns to Frankfort Thursday.”

In addition to the costs imposed on employers through health insurance and workers’ compensation, prescription drug abuse in the workplace poses other serious problems.

“Our manufacturers tell us substance abuse like prescription drugs has infiltrated the workplace to the extent it is becoming a safety and attendance issue,” said Greg Higdon, president and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers.

“Prescription drug abuse is a human resources nightmare for Kentucky employers,” said Bryan Sunderland, vice president of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber. “Illegal abuse of prescriptions creates a number of workplace safety issues, increases costs to the hiring process, leads to theft and other losses and increases legal liability for employers.”

HB 4 is supported by the undersigned organizations, representing the vast majority of Kentucky’s employers:

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
National Federation of Independent Businesses, Kentucky
Kentucky Association of Manufacturers
Associated General Contractors
Home Builders Association of Kentucky
Kentuckians for Better Transportation, Inc.
Kentucky Coal Association
Coal Operators and Associates
Commerce Lexington Inc.
Greater Louisville Inc.
Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Hardin County Chamber of Commerce
Christian County Chamber of Commerce
Kentucky Small Business Caucus

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