Kentucky legislators are boldly setting sail into the uncharted waters labeled on most maps only as “Commonsense.” Two pieces of legislation under consideration will increase scrutiny on people who need it, doctors, and reduce restrictions on some who don’t, dairy farmers.
There are some unfunny parallels between the two cases. According to documents assembled over a year of reporting by the Louisville Courier Journal, over a thousand Kentuckians are killed each year by the over-prescription of pain pills, yet submission to monitoring is voluntary for doctors. Dairies, on the other hand, are subject to multiple and mandatory inspections by state inspectors, and the sale of fresh milk is illegal in Kentucky and many other states despite the fact that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was recently forced to concede after a Freedom of Information Act query that no American has died in the last decade from drinking unpasteurized milk.
Kentucky lawmakers will deal with the pill pushers first in a bill which will require every person writing a prescription for pain medications to record the transaction in the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system (KASPER). Today, only 30 percent of doctors report their prescriptions in the system and you can bet that doctors who are abusing their license privileges and over-prescribing pain pills aren’t lining up to sign up for the program. If passed, House Bill 4 will also require that pain clinics be owned by licensed practitioners, that doctors’ prescription privileges be suspended if they put public safety at risk, that patients receive a full physical and provide a medical history before getting a new prescription, that doctors who commit felonies lose their license for five years and that the state does not issue licenses to practice to doctors who have been decertified in other states...commonsense.
The general assembly and senate are also considering forming a task force made up of legislators, scientists, public health officials and farmers to take on the question of whether or not citizens should be able to buy milk directly from dairies. There is a rising demand nationwide for the right to purchase unpasteurized and non-homogenized milk fresh from the farm for reasons ranging from health to taste. Rules regarding milking and storage sanitation are not up for debate, just the question of whether you will be able to go straight to a local farmer and buy milk in its most natural, nutritious and delicious state. A change in the law will also be a boon to those who drink goat milk for dietary reasons and are now forced to have a “dealer” who is, most probably, breaking some law for selling milk.
The odds are against this happening. As the concurrent resolution chartering the task force is written, the group studying the issue is stacked with representation from industries who benefit from the status quo, but the fact that the voices of citizens who want their food to be as local, fresh and unadulterated as possible was even heard is refreshing.
But, maybe commonsense will prevail in this issue as well.