In the News: South Bend Tribune: Legislative Recap

Monday, July 11, 2016


South Bend Tribune: Legislative Recap

by Kevin Allen

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, chaired a House and Senate conference committee on legislation to address opioid abuse.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Jimtown, also was a member of the conference committee. She spoke in support of measures she wrote to protect veterans from being overprescribed opioids.

Walorski said the crisis has reached a point where the Drug Enforcement Administration raided and began investigating several veterans health facilities. The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Marion, Ind., raised DEA suspicions after it purchased more prescription drugs than any other VA facility in the northern district of Indiana, she said.

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

Walorski spoke on the House floor about the dangers posed by the release of terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay amid the ongoing manhunt for a former detainee missing in Brazil.

The fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act passed by the House earlier this year contains Walorski-authored provisions, including a requirement that the U.S. enter into written agreements with foreign nations that accept detainee transfers. Last month, Walorski and Sen. Steve Daines, D-Mont., introduced legislation to prohibit any Guantanamo transfers until the act is signed into law or until the end of this year.

“What we need is a comprehensive strategy to destroy terrorist organizations like ISIS,” Walorski said on the House floor. “Instead, the administration is ramping up the release of Guantanamo Bay detainees.”

Walorski and Upton voted for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to address the nationwide opioid epidemic. The House approved the bill by a vote of 407 to 5.

“Dozens of Americans die each day from opioid overdoses, and this has to stop,” Walorski said. “There is a long battle ahead of us. A lot of damage has already been done. But this bill represents an important step forward as we seek to stop overprescription and end opioid addiction in our country.”

Walorski wrote two provisions included in the bill. One would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to participate in state prescription drug monitoring programs, and the other would allow the VA to use FDA-approved medical devices and other non-opioid therapies to treat chronic pain.

Read the full story here.


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