Walorski Speaks About Protecting Veterans at Opioid Conference Committee Meeting

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Walorski Speaks About Protecting Veterans at Opioid Conference Committee Meeting

Committee Negotiated Final Details of Anti-Opioid Bill, Including Walorski Provisions to Protect Veterans from Overprescription

OpioidsConferenceCommittee

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02), a member of the conference committee that negotiated final details of comprehensive legislation to combat opioid and heroin addiction, today spoke in support of measures she authored to protect veterans from opioid overprescription. Following today’s committee meeting, Walorski signed the conference report, which included her provisions.

“Veterans are more vulnerable to addiction, and I’ve seen the problem firsthand, with veterans coming into my office often carrying a large bag of pills,” said Congresswoman Walorski, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This crisis has gotten so bad that the DEA raided and began investigating several VA facilities, including one in my home state of Indiana. The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Marion raised DEA suspicions after it purchased more prescription drugs than any other VA facility in the Northern District of Indiana. For too long, the VA has relied too heavily on the prescription of opioids. There needs to be more oversight of prescribing practices at VA facilities, and the VA needs to explore effective, non-opioid treatments.”

Video of Congresswoman Walorski’s remarks at the conference committee meeting is available here. The full text of her remarks is below.

“Good afternoon. It’s an honor to be here today to start the process of finalizing comprehensive legislation to address the opioid epidemic we’ve been seeing in our communities across the country.  

“Today, I want to focus on the provisions that will help improve health care for our veterans.

“As a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’ve grown very concerned over the issue of opioid overprescription.

“Veterans face higher rates of chronic pain and of poly-trauma and co-morbidities, particularly PTSD, depression, and traumatic brain injury.

“Veterans are more vulnerable to addiction, and I’ve seen the problem firsthand, with veterans coming into my office often carrying a large bag of pills.

“This crisis has gotten so bad that the DEA raided and began investigating several VA facilities, including one in my home state of Indiana.  

“The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Marion raised DEA suspicions after it purchased more prescription drugs than any other VA facility in the Northern District of Indiana.

“For too long, the VA has relied too heavily on the prescription of opioids. There needs to be more oversight of prescribing practices at VA facilities, and the VA needs to explore effective, non-opioid treatments.

“With that said, I want to highlight two important provisions in this legislation.

“The first requires the VA to report to State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. These databases have proven to be an important and effective tool for tracking prescription practices, yet the VA is not required to report to them as other health care providers are. This will open up a window into VA prescribing practices that will help law enforcement identify problem areas that warrant further investigation.

“Another provision allows the VA to consider alternate forms of treatment, such as FDA-approved medical devices for patients with chronic pain. This will give the Department more options for veterans than strictly prescribing opioids.

“Again, I thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this committee and work on such an important issue facing our veterans and our nation at large.

“I yield back.”

BACKGROUND

Walorski authored two provisions included in the House-passed version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524). One provision would require all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities to participate in their respective state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) to better identify patterns of overprescription. The second provision would allow the VA to use FDA-approved medical devices and other therapies as alternatives to opioids for treating chronic pain.

The comprehensive, wide-ranging legislation makes critical reforms and creates grant programs to help states, law enforcement entities, and other organizations in their work to prevent and treat opiate addiction and overdose. Among the bills included in the House-passed bill was the Jason Simcakoski Promoting Responsible Opioid Management and Incorporating Scientific Expertise (PROMISE) Act (H.R. 4063), which contained Walorski’s provisions.

Currently, VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) may participate in PDMPs but are not required by law to do so. In December, Walorski introduced legislation that would change that option to a requirement in response to a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation into potential opioid overprescription at the VAMC in Marion, Ind. In February, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously approved that legislation and included it in H.R. 4063.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee and House Committee on Agriculture.

###

STAY CONNECTED

tw-img

 


Get News & Updates