The North Carolina Senate released its proposed budget late Tuesday and various Senate committees started to review the $22 billion spending plan first thing this morning. Review the Senate’s budget bill here.
One significant provision for North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) members in the North Carolina Senate’s recently released budget concerns the state’s Controlled Substance Reporting System (CSRS), which allows doctors to see previous controlled substance prescriptions filled by a patient. The Senate budget allocates nearly $1.5 million to upgrade the CSRS to connect it to the state’s Health Information Exchange and to the controlled substance reporting systems in surrounding states. The NCMS has supported these measures. The budget also includes money to enhance reports available through the database to identify unusual prescribing patterns or behavior indicative of abuse, addiction or criminal activity.
Legislators, faced with an opioid abuse epidemic, also have concerns that CSRS usage among physicians remains low. The Senate’s budget proposal seeks to mandate usage of the CSRS, requiring a physician to register for and check the database before prescribing an opioid or risk having their medical license suspended or revoked. The NCMS has opposed such mandates in the past and will continue to work with legislators to find ways to meaningfully address the opioid epidemic using all the tools available to legislators and physicians. We welcome physician input and viewpoints on this important issue.
The Senate’s vote on their budget is expected by the end of the week. House and Senate conferees then will begin to negotiate a compromise spending plan next week. Several legislators have predicted a final budget will be adopted and this short Legislative session should conclude by July 4.