Malibu Beach Recovery Center Alumni Urge State Politicians to Fund CURES
On March 13, 2013 Alumni Krissie B, Edward S and Jenna W flew with me to Sacramento to testify before the Assembly Budget Committee on the urgent need to fund CURES — California’s online real time prescription drug database. We all believe that if CURES was modernized and functioning, it could save lives. The database allows doctors and pharmacists to quickly determine if their patients are doctor-shopping or pharmacy-hopping for drugs that the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) has designated a “scheduled” medication. Most if not all prescribable narcotics and benzodiazepines are Schedule II, III and IV.
Krissie, Jenna and Edward told their personal stories to the committee. Each testimony was emotional and powerful. As CEO I explained that all three alumni were alive because someone – a judge, an addiction counselor, parents –intervened. Once CURES is up and running, it will be easy for a pharmacist, a doctor, or a California Medical Association official to quickly red flag doctors who appear to be overprescribing and pharmacies offering too many refills.
Before testifying the three met with Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, who chairs the Budget Committee, and State Senator Mark DeSaulnier who authored the original CURES funding bill SB 1071 which three years ago failed to pass out of the Health Committee – it lost by one vote.
Senator DeSaulnier and State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg have just authored a new CURES funding bill, co-sponsored by Senators Hancock, Lieu, Pavley and Price and Assemblyman Blumenfield. SB 809 will provide revenue to upgrade and fully modernize the CURES program, main program operations, establish enforcement capability and improve utilization by requiring all practitioners and pharmacists to enroll in the program and consult the data base.
Funding will come through an increase by 1.6% fees currently charged to practitioners authorized to dispense scheduled substances, as well as an annual tax on the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture the controlled substances. There will also be a one-time tax on heath insurance and workers’ comp insurers to fund the modernization upgrade.
A special note to all those who keep writing to us about their legitimate pain concerns: The legislators understand that there are many Californians with genuine pain problems who need scheduled medications and should not be discriminated against.
Senator DeSaulnier asked the three Malibu Beach Recovery Center alumni to notify all other drug and alcohol treatment centers, and sober livings, in California about the CURES bill and urge them to have their state representatives agree to co-author SB 809.
Almost every other state has been able to implement and fund a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). Come on California!
Top to bottom: Edward, Krissie and Jenna at Assemblyman Blumenfield’s Conference table. Sign outside the Hearing Room. Audience in the Hearing Room. Krissie, Jenna and Joan outside the Capital Building. Joan and Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield in his office.