The Libertarian Party of Georgia (LP Georgia) is praising the State Senate for defeating HB 614, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act. The legislation would have established a state surveillance system for the monitoring of prescribing and dispensing of certain medications. Included in the database would be most pain relievers, anxiety medications, sleep aids and anything containing codeine.
Earlier this month, the LPGa took a position against this legislation citing privacy concerns, such as invading the privacy of an individual without a warrant.
HB 614 stood in direct contradiction with the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision in King v. State, which says, “In this state, privacy is considered a fundamental constitutional right and is ‘recognized as having a value so essential to individual liberty in our society that [its] infringement merits careful scrutiny by the courts.’” The Court also noted in the decision that “[p]ermitting the State unlimited access to medical records for the purposes of prosecuting the patient would have the highly oppressive effect of chilling the decision of any and all Georgians to seek medical treatment.”
In a recent column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bob Barr, 2008 Libertarian Party nominee for President, wrote that the “purpose of the legislation, although couched deceptively as necessary to ‘improve health care quality and effectiveness,’ is obviously to make it easier for law enforcement and regulatory agencies to discover alleged ‘pill pushers’ and prescription abusers without having to go through the normal — and constitutionally appropriate — process of obtaining subpoenas and warrants (in other words, without having to first develop at least some evidence that a person may be violating the law before invading their medical privacy).”
While the defeat of HB 614 is a victory for the privacy rights of Georgians, there is still much work to be done, including fighting against federal regulations in the current healthcare debate in Washington, DC and offering free market alternatives that respect individual liberty and privacy.