|By John Cheves, Lexington Herald-Leader|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"We knew that this bill would have an immediate impact on thwarting the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs in our state, and the statistics over the last few months are already showing progress," Beshear said in a statement.
Responding to public complaints, the
"From our discussions with company representatives, it does not appear that this was ever a widespread problem, and insurers indicate these tests are a covered benefit," the
To curb prescription drug abuse,
Last month, the <org>Lexington Herald-Leader reported on scattered complaints of patients charged hundreds of dollars for urine tests whose insurance companies denied coverage because the tests were not considered medically necessary. One retired couple in
"This is much better, and I appreciate it," Burton said. "But it continues to be a problem out there for a lot of people. Look at all the calls and the noise I had to make just to get this fixed. How many people are in a position to do that? A lot of folks are just going to get stuck with these bills, and they won't be able to pay them and their credit will be ruined."
Clark said other Kentuckians who have complaints about insurance coverage of urine tests required under HB 1 can call the
State officials said they don't know how many Kentuckians will be required to submit to urine testing under HB 1. They also don't know how much the tests are supposed to cost, although they're currently researching that information.
Doctors can order patients to submit to targeted drug screening, which should be cheaper, or comprehensive drug screening, which is likely to cost more, they said. Tests should begin at around
"Our assumption -- and maybe it was a faulty assumption -- was that doctors were familiar with the testing process, so they knew which tests to order," Vest said. "Our understanding was, the doctor could pick the test that made the most sense for each individual patient. So this response has been a little surprising to us."
Lawmakers passed HB 1 in April to address hundreds of deaths reported annually in
Apart from the urine tests, there is debate over how the law affects doctors -- requiring them to complete patients' medical histories, check photo identifications, conduct physical exams and consult a statewide prescription database before they issue prescriptions for controlled substances.
The Beshear administration and the
In a prepared statement Tuesday, Beshear's office credited HB 1 with the closure of 10 of 44 pain management clinics known to operate in
The number of health care providers registered to use KASPER has jumped from 7,911 when lawmakers approved HB 1 in April to 21,542 as of
At the same time, the presciption monitoring system has recorded a 6 to 9 percent drop in prescriptions for frequently abused drugs like hydrocodone, oxycodone and alprazolam, or Xanax, according to the statement.
"What we are beginning to see is the impact of medical providers reviewing KASPER reports and making changes in patient treatment. This not only puts the brakes on doctor shoppers, it also improves patient care," said
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