Bondi: Board of Med Can Move on Pill Mills

By: Kathleen Haughney, The News Service of Florida
By: Kathleen Haughney, The News Service of Florida

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, January 19, 2011 --

Attorney General Pam Bondi said Gov. Rick Scott’s freeze on all new regulations will not hold up her office’s efforts to shutter pain clinics across the state that are dispensing superfluous amounts of prescription pain medicine to patients.

Bondi, who has been on the job for just more than two weeks, told a gathering of reporters in Tallahassee Wednesday that her office believes that the Board of Medicine, which is developing rules to better regulate the clinics – derisively called pill mills - is not directly under the governor’s control and therefore is not subject to his executive order freezing all new rules until he gives them the go-ahead.

“We’re going forward, absolutely,” Bondi said.

A law that took effect in October called for increased regulation of the clinics, but the rulemaking to carry out the increased regulation is still pending.

Bondi has hired former state Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Democrat who worked on the issue in the Senate, to run her office’s pill mill operation. Aronberg, who also ran for attorney general last year, but lost in the Democratic primary to Dan Gelber, told the News Service earlier this month that the attorney general’s office would likely propose legislation to further crack down on the clinics and close some loopholes in the current law.

A Scott spokesman declined to answer whether the administration agreed with the attorney general’s assessment of the pill mill rules, but said that the governor supported efforts to regulate pain clinics.

“Gov. Scott is committed to supporting the prosecution of those who violate our laws and put the health and safety of Floridians at risk,” Scott spokesman Brian Hughes said in an e-mail. “Furthermore, he supports the efforts of Attorney General Bondi to go after criminal ‘pill mills’ and will continue to work with her on this and other public safety issues.”

BONDI ON BP

Bondi, during a speech to reporters at the Associated Press’ Legislative Planning Day on Wednesday, also promised to press BP to pay claims to Panhandle businesses and restaurants for income loss related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April.

Bondi noted that former Attorney General Bill McCollum started to pursue the issue while he was still in office and that the issue was at the top of her radar.

“You are going to see us get a lot more aggressive,” she said, though she didn’t provide any details.

PENDING IMMIGRATION MEASURE

As members of the House and Senate consider legislation aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration, Bondi said she would support changes, if they’re constitutional.

Bondi told reporters that Rep. Will Snyder, R-Stuart, who is sponsoring immigration legislation, has reached out to her office and assured her that he wants any legislation to be constitutional. She acknowledged though that she would still prefer to see the federal government adequately enforce immigration laws.

“But, if we are going to have legislation to protect our state, we have to be sure that it is constitutional, that it protects against racial profiling, that it protects against pretext stops, because I’ve seen the devastating effects of that from being a prosecutor for so many years,” she said. “But would I support that? Yes, if it’s constitutional.”


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