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Rogers Applauds Florida Governor and State Officials for Implementing Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

WASHINGTON, DCToday, U.S. Representative Hal Rogers (KY-05) hailed the hard-fought implementation of Florida's Prescription Drug Monitoring System (PDMP). After months of pleading by federal and state officials, in a congressional hearing today, Governor Rick Scott reversed his stance in opposition to Florida’s PDMP roll-out and testified that the Florida Department of Health has begun implementation of the database.

Governor Scott's decision comes just weeks after Rogers and other officials, including Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, expressed sharp criticism for his refusal to implement the state's monitoring system which was passed into law in 2009.

"It is no secret Florida’s pill mills have been ground zero for the illicit diversion of the drugs that are wreaking havoc in Kentucky and around the country, and I’m glad Governor Scott has finally seen the light,” stated Rogers.  “This is a great day for the Commonwealth and all of our neighboring states that have been impacted by the prescription pain pills rapidly funneling out of Florida to feed the addiction epidemic plaguing our families.  Every day, we lose three people to overdose-related deaths in Kentucky, and now is no time to shy away from the immense challenge of shutting down the pill pipeline."

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), 98 of the top 100 doctors dispensing Oxycodone nationally are in Florida, concentrated in the Miami, Tampa, and Orlando regions. 126 million Oxycodone pills are dispensed through pharmacies in those regions, which is by far more than any other state in the nation.

In his testimony to the Congressional Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, Governor Scott said, "together, if we hold the manufacturers, wholesalers, doctors and pharmacies accountable, we can win this fight," and highlighted a newly formed Statewide Drug Strike Force to facilitate multi-agency cooperation in battling the drug epidemic.  As part of the hearing, Rogers also provided written testimony.

Earlier this week, Florida's Surgeon General issued a final order to end a contract bidding dispute that had also blocked implementation of the system. Officials expect Florida's PDMP to be up and running within 90 days. 

"The 'Oxy Express' is headed for a shutdown," said Rogers. "Law enforcement agencies in Florida will soon have the tools they need to coordinate with agencies along the pill pipeline route and will be putting the brakes on these interstate dealers." 

Rogers is the Co-Chairman of the bi-partisan Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse in the U.S. House of Representatives and a co-sponsor of “The Pill Mill Crackdown Act of 2011” (H.R. 1065) that includes key provisions to support state-based prescription monitoring programs, turn illicit drug assets into drug treatment dollars, strengthen prescription standards for certain addictive pain drugs, and toughen prison terms and fines for pill mill operators.

Rogers has served Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District since 1981. With a focus on economic development, job creation, fighting illegal drugs and preserving Appalachia’s natural treasures, he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and fighting for the region he represents. For more information visitwww.halrogers.house.gov.

Gov. Beshear statement on fighting 'Florida Connection'

 

FRANKFORT, Ky.– “This morning I testified at a Congressional hearing on the epidemic of prescription drug abuse that has hit Kentucky hard, despite our successful prescription drug monitoring program.  A large part of our current problem is the illegal prescription drug pipeline from Florida, which does not have such a monitoring system.  In October 2009, during the state’s largest drug bust, Kentucky law enforcement officials arrested more than 500 people in connection with diverting prescription drugs, all of whom had a Florida connection.

Therefore, I have been urging Florida Governor Rick Scott, both in personal conversation and by letter, to implement such a system in Florida.

Others, including Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers and Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo, have been doing the same.  Although Gov. Scott was initially against such a system because of privacy concerns, I am excited to announce that this morning Gov. Scott advised me privately and at the hearing that he was moving ahead with the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring system.  This is great news for Kentucky and could save thousands of lives.”



 

On Monday we reported proposed cuts to funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting had been omitted from the deal on this year's federal budget, but the future of CPB funding and rural radio in future years remains unclear. The uncertainty worries WMMT, the radio station for Appalshop in Whitesburg, Ky., and listeners in Eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia. "If that station were to be shut down for lack of funding, it would really, really hurt this town," Whitesburg Mayor James Wiley Craft told Kit Seelye of The New York Times.

WMMT, an unusual public station in that it is not affiliated with NPR or a university, received $86,000, one-third of its budget, from the CPB last year. As we've noted more than once, rural radio stations that depend on federal funding to operate may be in danger of going off the air if their funding is cut. More than 20 rural stations, some of which are one Indian reservations, rely on CPB for over half of their revenue, Seelye writes. "This is the worst threat we've ever had because the economic climate is so bad for everything else," said Jim Webb, left, who hosts WMMT's "Appalachian Attitude." (NYT photo by Scott McIntyre)

While WMMT doesn't broadcast NPR programming and thus is not forced to defend NPR against claims of liberal bias, Craft said the station has at times been portrayed as anti-coal. "Some of the people who are there are associated with other groups" that oppose mountaintop removal, he said, "but those people at the state are intelligent enough to know which side of the bread is buttered. This area depends on coal 100 percent." (Read more)
Posted by Jon Hale

The Obama administration is offering grants and loan guarantees to rural gas stations for installing pumps for E85 pumps, the fuel that is 85 percent ethanol. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will offer grants and loan guarantees to cover up to 75 percent of the cost of installing equipment needed to dispense E85, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of the Des Moines Register reports. The hope is to place ethanol pumps in 10,000 stations within five years.

"About 2,300 stations nationwide are now equipped to sell E85," Brasher writes. "About 8 million cars and trucks on the road are equipped to use E85." Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release,  "Many folks who own these vehicles may have a difficult time accessing the necessary fuel." Retrofitting a station to supply E85 costs around $120,000, and many stations will see that as too much even with the federal aid, John Eichberger, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Convenience Stores, told Brasher.

"The government is offering you a $25,000 grant. Most stations only made $30,000 to $40,000 in pre-tax profit last year," Eichberger told Brasher. "You're looking at a pretty hefty investment." He says a better solution would be for Congress to certify existing equipment as able to supply E85 and other blends of ethanol and gasoline. USDA has restricted the aid to stations in communities with fewer than 50,000 people, one definition of rural. (Read more)
Posted by Jon Hale