Paul, both a doctor and US Representative, sought on July 7, 2004 to end the health and justice crisis through offering an amendment to the Department of Justice appropriations bill. Paul's amendment was ruled out of order after it was debated on the House floor, preventing it from receiving a vote. The Congressional Record excerpt below contains Paul's amendment and his House floor speech in the debate. With the FDA proposing expanding the devastating war on pain doctors and their patients, Paul's speech is more relevant now than ever.
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment No. 8 offered by Mr. Paul:
Insert before the short title at the end of the bill the following title:
TITLE VIII--ADDITIONAL GENERAL PROVISIONS
SEC. 801. (a) None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used--
(1) to take any legal action against a physician for prescribing or administering a drug not included in schedule I of the schedules of controlled substances under section 202(c) of the Controlled Substances Act for the purpose of relieving or managing pain; or
(2) to threaten legal action in order to prevent a physician from prescribing or administering such a drug for such purpose.
(b) None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used--
(1) to take any legal action against a person for acts relating to the prescribing or administering by a physician of such a drug for such purpose; or
(2) to threaten any legal action against a person in order to prevent the person from engaging in acts relating to the prescribing or administering by a physician of such a drug for such purpose.
The CHAIRMAN. Points of order are reserved.
Pursuant to the order of the House of today, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul).
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. PAUL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, what this amendment does is it denies funding to the Department of Justice to prosecute doctors for prescribing legal drugs.
The reason I bring this up is to call attention to the Members of a growing and difficult problem developing in this country, and that is, that more and more doctors now are being prosecuted by the Justice Department under the laws that were designated for going after drug kingpins, for illegal drug dealers; but they are using the same laws to go after doctors.
It is not one or two or three or four. There are approximately 400 doctors who have been prosecuted, and I know some of them, and I know they are good physicians; and we are creating a monster of a problem. It does not mean that I believe that none of these doctors have a problem. As a physician, I know what they are up against and what they face, and that is, that we have now created a system where a Federal bureaucrat makes the medical decision about whether or not a doctor has prescribed too many pain pills. I mean, that is how bureaucratic we have become even in medicine; but under these same laws that should be used going after kingpins, they are now being used to go after the doctors.
As I say, some of them may well be involved in something illegal and unethical; and because I still want to stop this, this does not mean I endorse it, because all the problems that do exist with some doctors can be taken care of in many different ways. Doctors are regulated by their reputation, by medical boards, State and local laws, as well as malpractice suits. So this is not to give license and say the doctors can do anything they want and cause abuse because there are ways of monitoring physicians; but what has happened is we have, as a Congress, developed a great atmosphere of fear among the doctors.
The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, a large group of physicians in this country, has now advised their members not to use any opiates for pain, not to give adequate pain pills because the danger of facing prosecution is so great. So the very people in the medical profession who face the toughest cases, those individuals with cancer who do not need a couple of Tylenol, they might need literally dozens, if not hundreds, of tablets to control their pain, these doctors are being prosecuted.
Now, that is a travesty in itself; but the real travesty is what it does to the other physicians, and what it is doing is making everybody fearful. The other doctors are frightened. Nurses are too frightened to give adequate pain medications even in the hospitals because of this atmosphere.
My suggestion here is to deny the funding to the Justice Department to prosecute these modest numbers, 3 or 400 doctors, leave that monitoring to the States where it should be in the first place, and let us get rid of this idea that some bureaucrat in Washington can determine how many pain pills I, as a physician, can give a patient that may be suffering from cancer.
I mean, this is something anyone who has any compassion, any concern, any humanitarian instincts would say we have gone astray; we have done too much harm; we have to do something to allow doctors to practice medicine. It was never intended that the Federal Government, let alone bureaucrats, interfere in the practice of medicine.
So my suggestion is let us take it away, take away the funding of the Justice Department to prosecute these cases, and I think it would go a long way to improving the care of medicine. At the same time, it would be a much fairer approach to the physicians that are now being prosecuted unfairly.
And let me tell you, there are plenty, because all they have to do is to be reported that they prescribed an unusual number of tablets for a certain patient, and before you know it, they are intimidated, their license is threatened, their lives are ruined, they spend millions of dollars in defense of their case, and they cannot ever recover. And it is all because we here in the Congress write these regulations, all with good intentions that we are going to make sure there is no abuse.
Well, there is always going to be some abuse. But I tell you there is a lot better way to find abusive doctors from issuing pain medication than up here destroying the practice of medicine and making sure thousands of patients suffering from the pain of cancer do not get adequate pain medication.