Everyone in Florida knows that Gov. Rick Scott has long opposed the state legislature-approved prescription pill database like a grumpy 2-year-old refusing to eat his vegetables. Of course, he also killed the Office of Drug Control because he thought it was a waste of money.
But that didn't stop him from taking credit for the database and talking a hard line on prescription drugs during his testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives earlier today.
"The targets for law enforcement have often been the street dealers and addicts -- essentially the bottom level of the distribution chain," Scott said this morning during the Energy and Commerce Committee's Hearing on the Growing Danger of Prescription Drug Diversion.
"In fact, one tool that focuses on end users is a database focused on the patient level," he added. "This month in Florida, my Department of Health began implementation of such a database."
Well, that's a bit misleading. Scott has fought tooth and nail against the database since before taking office, questioning its effectiveness and arguing it posed a risk to patient privacy.
Although he once again raised privacy concerns during his testimony, Scott didn't dare question the utility of the database in front of the committee, which also heard testimony from Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.
Beshear said Florida serves as a major pipeline of prescription drugs to Kentucky and pointed out that more than 80 Kentuckians die from drug overdoses every day.
So instead of slamming the database or boasting about closing the Office of Drug Control, Scott played up his own recently created "Statewide Drug Strike Force."
"More important than computer databases, though, is focusing the resources of my administration on a law enforcement solution that starts at the top of the distribution chain -- instead of the bottom," he said.
"This action, the creation of a Statewide Drug Strike Force, meant that from the highest offices of statewide law enforcement down to the street cops in our cities, we would open the channels of communication and ensure multi-agency cooperation," Scott said. "The goal is clear: Target the sources of these drugs before they hit the streets."
Better late than never, but Scott sings a different tune in D.C. than he does in Tallahassee.
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