A Republican member of the Missouri House of Representatives, Rehder has been the leader of a multiyear — and so far failed — effort to convince Missouri's government to put in place a prescription drug-monitoring program (PDMP), a system used nationwide to flag patients attempting to go to more than one doctor for opioids, known among addiction experts as "doctor shopping.'
Missouri is the only state in the country that does not have a PDMP.
As an entrepreneur — Rehder and her husband own a cable TV and internet contracting company that operates in seven states — she has seen the opioid crisis make running a business harder. "It's difficult finding people who pass drug screens and show up every day," Rehder said.
Yet other than Mallinckrodt, a drug manufacturer, and retailers such as drugstores and grocers with pharmacy businesses — where there is a clear and rational self-interest in being proactive on the addiction issue — no individual companies in Missouri have been supporters of the PDMP campaign. "This has not gotten buy-in from companies around here," Rehder said.
Behind the scenes, big business is paying attention to the opioid addiction epidemic.
Tracy King, vice president of government affairs at The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which supports Rehder's legislation on behalf of area companies, said the addiction crisis is driving up the costs for businesses since companies are the predominant payers of private insurance. One recent analysis estimated that the cost to private health insurance plans stemming from opioid addiction rose by more than 3,200 percent in the years 2007 to 2014.
Quality of life for employees and quality of workforce are also big business concerns. "When we go out and talk to members here, which we do all the time, we hear them say, 'We have the jobs; we just can't find the qualified, skilled workers,'" King said. "Part of that is having trained workers come in to run machines, but then many of them can't pass drug screens. ... Part of that is prescription drug abuse," King said.
According to CNBC's 2016 Top States for Business ranking, Missouri does not have much margin for error in these key business attractiveness categories: It finished 49th among U.S. states in both the Quality of Life and Workforce categories.