Manatee County pain clinic ordinance harms poor, under insured

November 20, 2013 

As an owner of a pain clinic in Sarasota (never in Manatee) and one who worked closely with the Sarasota County Commission in the development of its model ordinance as well as with Florida's Boards of Medicine (MD & DO) in development of the pain clinic rules and regulations, I must respond to the story on Manatee's pain ordinance.

The Manatee County ordinance succeeded only in excluding the poor and under-insured from pain care and enriching the special interests.

Unlike Sarasota, which offers no special exemptions for those that prescribe pain medications, Manatee Commissioners loaded their ordinance with numerous special exemptions; Manatee's statistics are flawed because those physicians that are exempted are, as Sarasota found (by not exempting), the largest prescribers of pain medicine.

Unlike Sarasota, which affirmed the state's newly adopted physician standards (including required training) in pain medicine, Manatee commissioners knew better and excluded all but a few physicians from practicing pain medicine in Manatee and many of those were given exemptions from the standards and inspections contained in the ordinance.

To put this into perspective, let's look at Dr. Jeffrey Friedlander, a Manatee resident and operator of pain management clinics now serving a nine-year sentence in prison for operating multiple pill mills; the commission-approved ordinance and exemptions would have a granted him the ability to operate in Manatee County without any oversight.

The vast majority of physicians that were left to practice pain medicine in Manatee County after the passage of the ordinance do not except Medicaid or self-pay patients (cash) and Manatee Rural Health does not treat chronic pain.

The real truth is that the commissioners played fast and loose with special interests and threw the poor and under-insured under the bus. The saddest part is that no one is truly any safer.

Paul Sloan


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