The “Show Me I’m Paranoid” State?

May 23, 2019
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Head in the swamp?

For seven years, Missouri has been the only state in the country without a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). PDMPs are designed to help identify abuse of controlled substances like opioids and to spot potential drug interactions.

Missouri doesn’t have a PDMP because one State Senator blocked the bill year after year by claiming the government might use the data to prevent people from buying guns. The Senator hit his term limit and there was expectation this year that the bill would finally pass, ending Missouri’s ignominious distinction as the lone holdout. Alas, a new group of six Republican Senators took up the mantle of their departed colleague and filibustered the bill again citing privacy and gun rights fears.

The lack of a PDMP is a problem for Missouri but also for surrounding states, which face blindspots in their systems as a result of not being able to share data with Missouri. A variety of local jurisdictions in Missouri have moved forward and are cooperating with other states, but the gaps are serious and have potentially lethal consequences.

The state ranks as the third biggest problem area in the country (only Washington, DC and Michigan are worse) for drug use so it’s not as though everything is working out just great.

Missouri is known as the “Show-Me” State, an expression that conveys the “stalwart, conservative, noncredulous character of Missourians,” according to the Missouri Secretary of State.

Most people credit the birth of “Show-Me” to a speech by a US Congressman in 1899. “I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”

But there’s another, less flattering origin story, referring to scabs from Missouri who replaced striking Colorado miners around the same time. “That man is from Missouri. You’ll have to show him.”

The second story seems about right for the current situation as the state continues to display willful ignorance about the opioid epidemic. I could include something similar about the attitude toward guns, but on that issue Missouri is sadly more representative of the country as a whole.

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

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