Meth Bill Would Affect Low-Income, Uninsured Kentuckians

by Gabe Bullard on February 9, 2011

Legislation in the General Assembly aimed at curbing meth production may have side effects for low-income Kentuckians.

The legislation would make cold medicines that contain the meth ingredient and decongestant pseudoephedrine available by prescription only.

Proponents say it will make meth harder to produce. But University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research director James Ziliak says the bill puts a burden on Kentuckians without insurance, since many won’t be able to afford to visit a doctor to obtain a prescription.

“There are people that will no longer have access to a fairly low-cost and yet effective way to treat common ailments like hay fever and allergies,” he says, adding that the diminished access¬†one side effect of a bill aimed almost directly at low-income Kentuckians.¬†“The law either way is going to affect. The majority of the group that uses this drug for purposes of making meth are themselves low income and may themselves not have any health insurance.”

Ziliak says about 15% of Kentuckians don’t have insurance. It’s not clear whether the legislation will clear the General Assembly or whether Governor Steve Beshear will sign it. An alternative bill that would tighten restrictions on certain medicines but not require prescriptions has also been introduced.

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