Today's Veterinary Business

APR 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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49 April/May 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM protect their interests. Imagine the political power of veterinarians and pet owners side by side push- ing for legislation to protect pets and having the resources to make a difference. PetsPAC will offer quarterly webinars with public officials, experts and other opinion leaders providing live interviews, debates and question-and-answer sessions. Supporters will be able to question legislators and decision- makers in states in which PetsPAC is engaged, regardless of where one lives. The webinars will be accompanied by quarterly updates to supporters about activities in legislatures across the United States. Look for the first webinar in the third quarter of 2018. The website and operations should be up and running in April. Plenty of time will be available to prepare for the November elec- tions and for legislatures starting up in early 2019. For the time being, send ques- tions or comments to me at mark@ or to the Veterinary Innovation Council at The national drumbeat is growing louder for politicians to deal with the growing opioids abuse crisis. Both parties in Congress and virtually every state legislature have declared this to be their No. 1 issue in 2018. Many states jumped in last year. What's changing is the number of states pulling veterinarians into the equation. First, let's take a look at the maps to see where things stand: We are seeing legislation clearly fall on one side or the other — veterinarians are part of the solution or still exempted. States that introduced legislation this year based on the opioid crisis are attempting to change the way "prescribing providers" do one or all of the following: • Register with the state Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). • Access the PMP before writing a prescription. • Report to the PMP after writing a prescription. • Reduce the burden of reporting to the PMP. • Prescribe controlled substances electronically. • Restrict the dose of a controlled substance. • Require continuing education on opioids, controlled substances or pain management. • Specifically exempt veterinarians from the state PMP program. Organized veterinary medicine has been vigilant in urging legislatures to exempt veterinarians from Prescription Monitoring Program requirements. The argument has been that veterinary medicine is only a fraction of the opioids abuse story, at most anecdotal, and that costs for individual practices to comply with PMP is unreasonably high. Legislatures are seeing bills taking this head on and saying: • All medical providers must step up to the plate. • Dosage restrictions should be part of the solution. • Pharmaceutical manufacturers or distributors should pay a gross receipts tax on opioid medications that can be passed up the chain. • Veterinarians have options in how they comply with PMP requirements so that the burden is reduced. Most of the legislative activity in 2018 is a quiet effort to persuade legislators to treat veterinary medicine differently than human medicine for a host of reasons, anchored by a view that this is fundamentally a crisis in human health care and that a paucity of data links opioid abuse to pet health care. The challenge for the veterinary industry is to avoid triggering a public debate positioned as veterinarians trying to avoid any responsibility for dealing with opioid abuse when state governments are looking for any and all solutions. Headlines and news stories along these lines will not be helpful for anyone and will surely build pressure on veterinarians to accept the full range of options being placed on the table. The other issue is more internal within the animal health industry, namely whether the right thing to do is address these problems rather than try to avoid liability. This moral issue comes with a price tag — not equal for all parts of the veterinary profession — so the debate will be difficult. Politics & Policy columnist Mark Cushing serves as policy and po- litical adviser to PetsPAC and the Veterinary Innovation Council. He is founding partner of the Animal Policy Group and a former litigator. He serves on the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. UPDATE: Veterinarians and opioids Bills pending on opioid dose restrictions Prescription monitoring laws and legislation Current veterinary requirements 2018 legislation may affect veterinarians Veterinarians specifically included/excluded in 2018 prescription monitoring legislation

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