Posted: Sep 28, 2012 10:33 PM
LEXINGTON (AP) - Under a new law designed to curb prescription pill abuse, patients with long-term conditions requiring controlled substances have to submit to urine drug tests that aren't always covered by insurance companies.
Retired nurse Cynthia Burton told the Lexington Herald-Leader that her insurer, Bluegrass Family Health, declined to pay $533 for a urine test that her husband took to get his anxiety medicine because it wasn't medically necessary. She said she hasn't yet gotten a letter about her urine test for insomnia medicine, but expects the same result.
"We're both retired, so it's a lot of money," said Burton. "What I don't like is that, under this law, we're considered guilty until proven innocent. "We're having to prove our innocence at considerable expense."
Gov. Steve Beshear said he is "aware of the concerns" and understands the cost may be "prohibitive" for some patients. He says officials are working to find a solution to the problem.
"We are working with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure to review options, including exploring whether other tests (blood, hair, etc.) could be as effective," the governor said. "We are also consulting with private insurance groups and managed care organizations about their policies regarding this standard of care, because some are covering the tests while others are not."
Under the law, which took effect in July, doctors must obtain a "baseline" urine sample from patients who are prescribed controlled substances for longer than three months. If a test indicates patients are likely to abuse or sell the substance, doctors aren't allowed to write a new prescription. The law also requires random drug tests.
It was unclear how many people would be affected by the new rule.
Critics of the law say they told legislators of potential consequences of the law before it passed.
"We anticipated this. Now we're starting to see third-party vendors denying payment for the tests, as we feared," said Cory Meadows, spokesman for the Kentucky Medical Association. "It's still early in the game, so concrete numbers are hard to come by at this point. But this certainly will be a significant issue."
Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, says the consequences "were not unforeseen."
"Some of us were not in favor of this bill for the primary reason that it punishes law-abiding citizens for the criminal acts of others," said Lee, who voted against the measure. "These problems were predicted and discussed in the legislature, but they obviously did not carry the day."
Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)