UPDATE: Judge dismisses drug database protestby Dara Kam | March 8th, 2011
UPDATE: Department of Health spokeswoman Michelle Dahnke didn’t reveal much about how the agency will proceed with the database after the judge’s ruling.
“The Department will determine our next steps following a review of the ruling,” she wrote in an e-mail.
An administrative law judge today dismissed a bid protest that kept the state’s controversial drug database from being implemented but the program hailed by law enforcement officials remains in limbo.
In a 71-page order, DOAH Judge Robert Meale ruled that the Department of Health didn’t do anything wrong by awarding the bid to Health Information Designs. Competitor Optimum Technology challenged the bid, saying the department erred in calculating the companies’ proposals.
Under the Health Information Designs contract, the database will cost $887,059 to get up and running. Optimum’s bid – $565,044 – didn’t win because the company scored lower overall. The case is now closed.
The judge’s ruling paves the way for department officials to move forward with the database, but that’s unlikely to happen because Gov. Rick Scott wants lawmakers to repeal the law they passed two years ago creating it – even though they also prohibited the use of any state funds to underwrite it.
GOP legislative leaders have now squared off over the database, designed to capture all prescriptions written for controlled substances and aimed at cracking down on “doctor shopping.”
Senate President Mike Haridopolos wants to keep the database and is willing to spend state money to get and keep it operational. But House Speaker Dean Cannon wants to follow Scott’s lead and scrap the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, hailed by law enforcement officials.
Cannon’s wants to stop doctors who are allowed to dispense drugs from handing out the narcotics. His lieutenant, Rep. Robert Schenck, is pushing a sweeping bill that would do away with current pain management clinic laws.