Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano is well known for going his own way: He was the only Republican in the Florida House of Representatives last year who broke ranks with the House leaders and voted for a Senate plan that would have covered the poor, using federal dollars.
Now Fasano has shown how to lead from behind, as the saying goes. He jumped into action as soon as he found out that the legislature ended its session Friday without funding the prescription drug database, the monitoring program he worked so hard to pass while in the legislature, the Laker/Lutz News reports.
Fasano contacted Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi; her office announced in a press release Monday that she had found the money to keep the monitoring program funded for four more years. She pledged $2 million from a settlement with CVS Caremark, enough to pay for the program for four years.
“Shutting down pill mills and protecting Floridians from prescription drug overdoses has been one of my top priorities,” Bondi said in the release. “The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is one important tool in the battle against prescription drug abuse, and by funding it for four years with this settlement money, we can ensure that it continues to be an effective tool
The state legislature passed a record $77 billion budget for 2014-15, but omitted any money for the drug database. It was created in law in 2009 under former Gov. Charlie Crist and launched in 2011.
The database law requires reporting of narcotics prescriptions so that doctors and pharmacists can check to see whether a patient is real or is an addict or drug dealer. A relatively small percentage of physicians check the database, according to previous reports, and efforts to pass a requirement to check it have gone nowhere.