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Bill to track all Mainers’ prescription drugs about to move forward despite pandemic

Rep. Patty Hymanson is the sponsor of L.D. 2117, which has the full support of Gov. Janet Mills.

AUGUSTA – Pandemic or not, a proposal that would require all dispensers of prescription drugs to enter the private information of any patient in Maine into a state run database is about to move forward to a legislative committee work session later this week. Creation of the program has the support of Gov. Janet Mills, but it has drawn fire from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons as an “egregious violation of patients’ privacy” and a “massive overreach of government.”

The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Patty Hymanson, would require any dispenser of prescription drugs in Maine “to report all prescription drugs dispensed intended for human consumption” and to create a system through which “pharmacists and all prescribers” could “obtain complete record of all medication prescribed to a patient, identifying the prescriber for each drug and listing the dates on which each prescription was filled.”

In an alert posted on Facebook, the non-profit group Maine People Before Politics sounded an alarm, saying, “The Mills Administration wants to warehouse all your private prescription information. DHHS submitted testimony in support of this bill without suggesting a single change.

Under the proposal, DHHS would collect your name, address, birth date, the drug, its prescribed amount and dose, along with several other details. The bill authorizes a long list of people to access your private prescription information.”

MPBP says the work session will take place on Friday, July 10 at 1pm.

“In the midst of a global pandemic and what may be the worst recession since the Great Depression, liberal legislators want to distract DHHS with yet another unnecessary and expensive project: creating a massive database of every drug prescribed to every Mainer,” said MPBP.

“It appears that the Legislature will come back into session in August, and the majority leaders of the HHS committee want to pass it then, especially since Governor Mills’ DHHS supports it. It’s likely they will vote it out in some form during the session on Friday.

To prevent a version of this bill becoming law, legislators on the Health and Human Services Committee need to hear from Mainers before Friday. We have posted a link to our website below to send a message to all the HHS members,” says the alert from MPBP.

Privacy concerns abound in the proposal. The idea of anyone working in a pharmacy or health care office across the state being able to access the full prescription record of any Mainer who has filled a prescription caused the AAPS bulletin opposing the bill to go viral when it was first released.

The purported goal of the proposal is to reduce instances of adverse drug reactions due to incompatible drug reactions or overprescribing of medications.

Some people are concerned that the storage of private prescription data could be used by the federal or state government if harsh “red flag” gun confiscation laws are passed in the future. The access points of the database would also open the door for tens of thousands of individuals and state officials to have access to, eventually, the long prescription drug history of every Mainer. In New York from March 2013 through October 2014, tens of thousands of residents were placed on so-called “no gun lists”, mostly because their prescription drug history included anti-anxiety or anti-depression medicines. That list was the result of legislation passed by the New York State Assembly.

Rep. Patty Hymanson, who is the primary sponsor of the bill, is probably best known for her successful sponsorship of Maine’s controversial physician assisted suicide or “Death with Dignity” bill, which narrowly became law last year.  

Maine People Before Politics is urging those with concerns about the proposal to contact members of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee as soon as possible to express their opposition.

The bill is L.D. 2117.

Read the full text of the bill by clicking here.

Read the alert from the AAPS by clicking here.

Find members of the Health and Human Services Committee by clicking here.

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