NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state’s largest physician organization is making some staff changes for the new year.
The main one that takes effect this week is the move of Russ Miller from executive vice president of the Tennessee Medical Association to chief executive officer.
Miller is a veteran public relations and marketing professional who has been with TMA since 1987. He takes over for Don Alexander, who is retiring after 40 years with TMA.
The organization represents 8,000 physicians and medical students statewide and is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the state Legislature.
The state’s district attorneys are pushing for passage in 2012 of legislation that would require health care providers and pharmacists to check the state’s prescription drug database as a means of curbing abuse of painkiller drugs, reports the News Sentinel. A lobbyist for the state’s physician thinks that’s going too far.
“What we’ve got to do is make it harder to get these pills on the streets,” said John Gill, special counsel to the Knox County district attorney general. “The database is not nearly as effective as it can be.”
Doctors, privacy advocates and others say the proposals go too far.
“We may well have some reservations,” said Gary Zelizer, director of legislative affairs for the Tennessee Medical Association. “My personal opinion is that it’s overkill.”
The database, created five years ago and funded by state fees for health care providers, tracks prescriptions statewide for narcotics such as oxycodone and hydrocodone — the same drugs that police say now top crack cocaine and methamphetamine among abusers. State law requires doctors and others to log each prescription they write and pharmacists to log each prescription filled.
The law doesn’t require them to check those logs before writing or filling the prescription. The database recorded more than 13.7 million prescriptions last year, according to the most recently available statistics — and only 1.2 million checks for patient profiles.
Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, has legislation pending on the subject. Yager says he expects there will be other bills filed to deal with the issue. A spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Haslam says the administration is considering “possible legislation” and will have more to say later.
See also the Shelbyville Times-Gazette story on the DAs efforts.
In this edition, the TMA sponsors a poll and finds Tennesseans support the TMA’s position… while Tennessee Citizen Action finds that corporate titans are backing Gov. Bill Haslam’s interest to protect their profits.
Or something like that. Releases are below