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Under current statute, pain management clinics are not held criminally liable for violations under this chapter of the occupation code. The disciplinary action for violations is either a temporary suspension or restriction. Considering the enormous problem of prescription pain medication addiction in Texas and across the country, pain management clinics where a majority of patients are issued prescriptions for opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or carisoprodol may well be viewed suspiciously by law enforcement.
Currently, physicians are held liable through Chapter 165 of the Occupations Code, but this bill would expand the criminal liability to administrative personnel. This could possibly lead to excessive prosecutions that would discourage legitimate doctors and clinics from prescribing the necessary pain medications for those recovering from serious injuries.
We do not oppose expanding who may be considered liable for violations, but we recommend that Section 3 of SB 1235 be stricken. Section 3 should be replaced with language stipulating that if an owner or supervisor approved or knew of violations within Chapter 165, Occupations Code that they would be liable for appropriate criminal penalties.
To sum, our objection to this bill covers two issues; the significant increase in level of penalty, and the lack of basic mens rea protections to ensure that only people who knowingly violated the law could be prosecuted and convicted. Fixing these issues would satisfy our objections to the bill. Were the bill to be so amended we would withdraw our opposition.
Amending SB 1235 would encourage personal responsibility, preserve individual liberty to the greatest degree possible, and operate within a more legitimate framework of a limited government.