South Carolina Medicaid seeks to curb prescription drug abuse

Starting April 1, doctors in South Carolina will be required to consult a statewide database before prescribing Medicaid patients any controlled substances, including opioids for pain relief.

The database, called the South Carolina Reporting and Identification Prescription Tracking System, includes information about a patient’s prescription drug history. In theory, doctors can identify those patients who may be abusing prescription painkillers.

The tracking system is maintained by the Department of Health and Environmental Control. It isn’t new, but for many years it was optional. Doctors weren’t required to use it and few did.

The state Medicaid program, administered by the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, will require physicians to start using the database in April. Providers will risk losing payments for non-compliance.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Council recommended mandatory participation in a report last year.

“This new policy will reduce opioid abuse and give us new tools to identify drug-seeking behaviors and the providers who — often inadvertently — have enabled them,” South Carolina Medicaid Director Christian Soura said in a press release about the new rule. “The goal is for providers to use this program not just for Medicaid members, but for all of their patients, so that we can make the greatest impact on public health.”

More than 1 million South Carolinians are enrolled in the low-income Medicaid program. Most are children.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 843-937-5598.