May 4, 2012 — The editor:
A recent editorial in this paper took issue with the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) for its stand on recent legislation regarding prescription drug abuse.
Unfortunately, the talking points adopted in Frankfort were echoed in the editorial in an attempt to attack KMA without really addressing the facts of the legislation.
As stated in the editorial, the KMA did oppose the movement of the administration of the Kentucky All Scheduled Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) system from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to the office of the Attorney General.
The editorial incorrectly noted that KASPER is also managed by the Board of Medical Licensure. It is not.
The proposed movement of KASPER to the Attorney General’s office was designed to make KASPER a “law enforcement tool.”
KASPER contains very private information. If you have purchased a drug that is a “controlled substance” you are noted in KASPER by name and the drug you purchased. But controlled substances are not just pain medicines. They also include medicines for attention deficit disorder, depression, and anxiety, which are also tracked by KASPER.
While federal law provides special protections to such information, some political leaders in Kentucky want to go in the opposite direction and provide access to more bureaucrats in Frankfort who have no experience handling the data.
KMA supported one bill that would have moved KASPER to the Attorney General’s office. That bill contained specific patient privacy protections, including the basic requirement that anyone in the Attorney General’s office who accessed your prescription history must be logged and the reason for the access spelled out.
Attorney General Conway, however, opposed this simple requirement as “watering down” the bill. That should give anyone who is listed in KASPER great concern.
We were also concerned about moving such an important system to another state agency and the effects such a move would have on the system’s administration. We need look no further than the recent movement of Medicaid to companies that have made a mess of that system to see what might have been. Keeping your sensitive medical information safe and well managed was always our goal.
KMA will continue to be attacked for our defense of patient privacy, but it was the right stand that was ultimately supported by a majority of legislators who evidently had similar concerns.
KMA does not believe it is above the law. Political leaders and bureaucrats should also not be placed above patient privacy, good medical care, and appropriate, well-reasoned debate.
Shawn Jones, MD
President, Kentucky Medical Association