I-Team: Ending MO's run as America's 'Pill Mill'

Published: Apr. 30, 2015 at 7:44 PM CDT|Updated: May. 1, 2015 at 1:41 AM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KFVS) - Six million dollars.

That's what the Missouri Senate suggests it will cost to track highly addictive narcotics while still keeping your medical information safe.

It's the latest hurdle as Missouri attempts to become the final state in the nation to operate a prescription drug monitoring program.

"Had there been some stumbling blocks in place, maybe things would have been different," Kerry Delisle said.

Kerry's wife Cindi Delisle went to doctors and emergency rooms across the state, seeking the pills that fueled her addiction.

"I found bills from all over town and from Jefferson City, Kansas City, St. Louis area," he said. "I just got one from Moberly the other day."

Delisle said most people probably had no idea about Cindi's struggle.

"To all appearances, she was just a normal, loving wife and mother," he said.

The couple has two sons, both now in college, but Delisle, who lives in Columbia, knows looks can be deceiving, and underneath the surface of his seemingly happy family, his wife Cindi battled an addiction to pain pills.

"Vicodin. MS-Contin, which is time-released morphine. And others that I'm sure I'm not aware of," he said.

Cindi Delisle's addiction ultimately tore her family apart. They separated last year.

"She wasn't a bad person," he said. "And this addiction didn't make her a bad person. I was just something she had that she could not control. I could not control it."

Then just two months ago, Delisle lost his wife of 23 years to an accidental overdose.

"It's tragic and I think it happens all the time," he said.

Kerry Delisle reached out to State Representative Holly Rehder to share his story, after learning she was leading the effort to finally create a monitoring program in Missouri. Rehder is a Republican from Sikeston.

"The goal is to help curb addiction," Rehder said of the program.

There are House and Senate bills to create one, with one very expensive difference.

State Senator Rob Schaaf has long opposed a PDMP for privacy reasons.

So, Rehder said Schaaf wants The Department of Health and Senior Services to staff and operate a coding system that uses numbers, not names, when tracking patients taking controlled substances.

"What this does, though, it has created a $6 million fiscal note on that bill because of having to have 41 full-time employees at the department reviewing this data," Rehder explained.

We asked if it was going to cost $6 million a year.

"Right, a year. That's the fiscal note," she responded.

Rehder knows, there's no way the program will pass with that kind of price tag. So, she went to the governor's staff for help. "What will he sign? What can we do?"

Once again, Rehder said opponents are using privacy concerns as a scare tactic.

"All the other states have done it with the physicians and pharmacists able to see the data. That's the way that it works," she said.

Despite this huge roadblock, Rehder is pleased with the progress, and still confident it can pass.

"We've overcome some huge hurdles, and so these hurdles aren't holding me back," she said. "I mean, I think that we're going to get there."

Kerry Delisle certainly hopes so. He believes a monitoring program could have stopped Cindi's doctor shopping and possibly saved her life.

"I think if there was anything that could have prevented her from doing that, then yes perhaps she would still be here," he said.

Rehder is currently working on alternatives to bring down the cost currently connected to the Senate's version of the monitoring program.

She hopes to get the bill onto the full House floor next week.

We will continue following this effort and let you know what happens next.

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