LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – We've heard doctors and patients complaining for months about Kentucky's new prescription drug law. Are some doctors taking advantage of the sick and elderly under the guise of the new law?
"It's just the way you feel," said Connie Campbell, "when you can't do anything."
Campbell used to be a caregiver. Now she has to be cared for. Parkinson's disease is trying to ravage her body.
"I try to count my blessings all the time," she said.
Campbell is also counting her trips to the doctor. It's icy outside, but they have no choice.
Every four weeks, her husband helps her slowly shuffle to the doctor for the Klonopin and Ativan she needs.
"Under the old plan we could go to the doctor every 90 days. He'd do blood work on her and write a new prescription, or he didn't even write a prescription. He'd just call Kroger," Campbell said.
They have to go once a month because of their doctor's office notice blaming "new prescription regulations" in announcing they will "prescribe only four weeks at most" of scheduled drugs.
So "anyone who needs a refill will need to come back in before the four weeks are over."
"If the STATE decides to ease off its regulations, then we will change this policy."
"Instead of going every three months and making four visits to the doctor a year, now we're making 12 visits a year, so we're paying triple the co-pays," Campbell said. "The doctor says my hands are tied."
But a member of the Legislative Research Commission said there is nothing in the new prescription drug law that requires monthly visits and monthly drug limits. The head of Kentucky's Medical Licensure Board said there is no regulatory change that calls for doctors to enact those rules. He said that kind of backlash is not widespread, but it is happening.
So where do they draw the line in something like this. They are fighting over that line right now at the state capital.
"I don't think it's that burdensome," said Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers.
Stivers is heading a committee drafting possible changes to the controversial prescription drug law. He said hospitals, long term care facilities, and surgery patients may be exempted from the new rules, but that's about it. He said lawmakers can't keep doctors from taking out their frustrations on patients like the Campbells.
"There is quite a diversity of opinion on this. A lot of it is based on misinformation," Stivers said.
But the chairman of the American Medical Association, who is also an ER doctor in Lexington, has a different opinion.
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," said Dr. Steven Stack. "An 85-year-old woman who breaks her wrist is not likely to be a drug addict."
The Campbells say they know others who are worse off, cutting back or not taking the drugs that have become such a hassle to get.
"Physicians saying you have to come to the office, we can't renew prescriptions without seeing you every month, some of those are good medical care. A lot of them are just unnecessary medical care that patients can't afford to undergo," Stack said.
The Campbells' doctor refused to do an interview. When told him there's nothing in the law or the regulations forcing him to require monthly visits, he said, "Suit yourself. That's not my impression. We don't want the state coming after us so that's our stance."
To view the Kentucky Medical Licensure Board page on "Misconceptions" on the new prescription drug law, click here.
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