JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Rep. Holly Rehder’s prescription drug monitoring plan continues to whiplash in the House, as the sponsoring representative moved Thursday to again refuse the Senate position on the bill.
The House first rejected the Senate’s position on HB 90 April 18 after a heavily amended version came back from the Senate that would vastly overhaul the House’s original version. After waiting nearly a month to come to an agreement and actually hold a conference with the Senate, Rehder decided Tuesday night to take back the Senate version and bring the Senate version of bill back up for debate on the House floor.
The Senate version – which includes a 180-day data purge and only covers a few types of prescriptions, instead of all Schedule II-IV drugs – was widely panned by counties that have already passed their own versions of the PDMP.
“When we went to dissolve the conference committee and take the Senate version, the county support eroded very quickly,” Rehder said. “I want a bill that we can all be proud of and I don’t want the counties to have to take a lesser program.”
Had the bill come to a vote, it likely would have failed to make it out of the chamber. Members of the libertarian-leaning Conservative Caucus in the House had already opposed the bill and spoke against it. However, House Democrats also began to recoil from the bill, including Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty, as the statewide regulatory framework would supercede efforts made in those counties, of what many Democrats call a better bill.
Democrats were a key and much-needed voting bloc in passing the initial bill.
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis City, was one of the first representatives to say on the House floor Tuesday he could not support the legislation as the Senate had amended it.
“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t want to weaken the PDMP that’s in my district,” Merideth said. He added that while he saw merit in having a statewide system, the stronger program that exists in some Missouri counties – most of which cover all prescription drugs and do not have purges on data – should be the one implemented and not a flawed version.
Ultimately, Merideth said whatever language presented on the bill had to have the support of St. Louis City and County.
St. Louis City and County have both had PDMPs, agreeing on the measures last year.
Rehder herself even assisted in establishing the “more robust” county-by-county system and prefers it to the version in her bill. She said Tuesday night’s decision came as a result of needing some cohesive plan, even if it was one that could be worked on at a later date.
“The body is not okay with just taking what the Senate wanted,” she said. “I wasn’t okay with it either, but weighing out the facts of how many people we have die daily in our state because of addiction, to me to have a statewide framework was more important than waiting another year.”
Rep. Pat Conway, D-St. Joseph, who supported Rehder’s effort and her decision to send the bill back to conference, had a more fatalist approach to the legislation, a theme that resonated throughout the House as tension continues to grow between the two chambers.
“If this bill does not make it through this session, there’s no one that can say we didn’t try,” Conway said. “The leadership and the members of this House did everything we could to get this passed… We need to send this back. We need to put this on their lap. We need to let the Senate know that we are an equal body.”