JEFFERSON CITY — Even as a Senate committee approved a proposed prescription drug monitoring program, a potential showdown on the bill's fate was playing out behind the scenes.
House Bill 90, sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, would create an electronic log that monitors prescription drug users through physicians and dispensers.
In a hearing Thursday morning, Rehder presented her bill to the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee. The committee fast-tracked the bill, passing it 7-0.
The bill passed in the House last week and will now go to the Senate floor, where it was previously expected to receive strong opposition from Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph. Schaaf has successfully stalled progress on PDMP plans in past sessions, citing privacy concerns over putting people's sensitive medical records into a database that could be hacked.
Schaaf announced in a press conference Tuesday that he would retract his opposition to the bill, but he included a condition: an amendment to the bill mandating that physicians use the program.
"I won't block the bill if that amendment is on there," Schaaf said Thursday morning.
Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, will handle the bill in the Senate. He said he plans to propose an amendment that would create such a mandate.
The Tuesday announcement came as a surprise to Rehder, but she hasn't voiced opposition to the potential amendment.
"I think physicians checking the program is what it’s intended for," Rehder said in the hearing.
In an interview earlier this week, Rehder said that the wording of a doctor mandate is key.
"We don’t want to get in between our physicians with their patient care," Rehder said. "This is a clinical tool, it does not need to be turned into some form of, you know, ‘Oh well now we’re worried about all the doctors, if they’re checking the database as often as they should.’ We need to allow some of the medical decisions to be in the hands of our doctors."
The mandate has received opposition from the Missouri State Medical Association, which previously testified in favor of the bill.
"We do not support utilization mandates, and (Schaaf) knows that," MSMA wrote in a tweet Tuesday.
MSMA did not respond to a request for comment.
Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, a physician, isn't sure if he'll support the bill.
"I'm going to see what final form it takes," Onder said. "I do have a problem with mandating use by physicians."
Those opposing the bill testified in the hearing that the program violates individual privacy, in addition to expressing concerns about the effectiveness of the program in other states.
Schaaf previously proposed a competing bill, which passed in the Senate on March 2 and has yet to be heard in a House committee.
The House passed Rehder's bill with an added amendment that included a real-time clause, meaning dispensers would be required to report prescription data within 24 hours beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
During Thursday's hearing, those who testified in support of the bill heavily outweighed those testifying in opposition. A long line formed in the aisle of the hearing room for groups and individuals to express their support.
John Sadler contributed to this report.