Walorski’s Legislation to Prevent Veterans Opioid Abuse Passes Committee

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Would Require VA facilities participate in Statewide Drug Monitoring Program

WASHINGTON – Today the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed Rep. Jackie Walorski’s (IN-02), language requiring all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities in Indiana and across the nation to participate in their respective state’s drug monitoring program.

The statewide system currently requires other doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to check patient records before prescribing painkillers, with pharmacists responsible for recording related prescriptions they fill. Each VA may choose whether to participate in their statewide prescription drug database at their discretion, but are not required by law to do so. Walorski’s language would change that option to a requirement.

“Indiana is in the midst of a prescription drug epidemic,” Walorski said. “It’s alarming that Veterans Affairs Medical Facilities are not required by law to report the amount of powerful drugs and opiates they prescribe.”

Last December, in Walorski’s home state of Indiana, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) began an investigation of a VAMC in Marion, Indiana. The DEA’s warrant revealed that the Marion facility purchased more powerful prescription drugs than any other VA facility in the Northern District of Indiana.

“Without the VA’s participation, there’s a glaring void in reporting that leaves veterans, already at an increased risk of abuse, even more vulnerable. My language ensures the VA follows the same rules and regulations as all other doctors and pharmacists to ensure veterans don’t abuse prescription drugs. I’m committed to increasing oversight and transparency over VA doctors to allow us to more closely monitor if veterans are being improperly treated.”

Watch Walorski’s remarks here.

Walorski’s language was approved by voice vote and amended into H.R. 4063 and now heads to the full House for further consideration.

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

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