Issue: Health Care

Walorski Supports Legislation to Combat Opiate Abuse Epidemic

Walorski Provision to Protect Veterans Included in Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Passed by House

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) today voted for comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to combat the nation’s prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemic. An amended version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, S. 524, which takes steps to address the growing problem of addiction and overdose, passed the House by a vote of 400 to 5.

“The prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemic in Indiana and nationwide is nothing less than a crisis, especially for the families who have lost loved ones,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The House took action to combat this problem on all fronts, including my provision to hold the VA accountable for overprescribing opioids to veterans. This bipartisan bill will save lives, and I hope the House and Senate reach an agreement quickly so we can get this bipartisan bill to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”

The House amended the Senate-passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to include 18 bills passed by the House earlier this week to combat opioid and heroin addiction. The wide-ranging bill 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 comprehensive legislation was H.R. 4063, the Jason Simcakoski Promoting Responsible Opioid Management and Incorporating Scientific Expertise (PROMISE) Act, which contains Walorski’s provision to require all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities to participate in their respective state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). H.R. 4063 passed the House unanimously earlier this week.

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.

House Passes Walorski Legislation to Prevent Veteran Opioid Abuse

Walorski’s Provision Requires VA to Report Opioid Prescriptions to State Drug Databases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) today applauded passage of legislation to prevent the over-prescription of opioids to veterans that often leads to prescription drug abuse. Congresswoman Walorski’s provision, which would require all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities to participate in their respective state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), was included in H.R. 4063, the Jason Simcakoski Promoting Responsible Opioid Management and Incorporating Scientific Expertise (PROMISE) Act, which passed the House unanimously.

“Indiana is in the midst of a prescription drug abuse epidemic, and our veterans are among the most at-risk,” said Walorski, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I’m glad my legislation passed the House unanimously, and I urge the Senate to pass it right away. VA facilities should follow the same rules as all other doctors and pharmacists to prevent veterans from abusing prescription drugs.”

Currently, VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) may participate in their respective state’s PDMP 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, the Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act.

In Walorski’s home state of Indiana, the statewide database known as INSPECT collects data on prescription drugs dispensed in the state. It requires other doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to check patient records in the database before prescribing painkillers, with pharmacists responsible for recording related prescriptions they fill. In March, the Indiana Governor’s office announced a partnership to begin VA participation in INSPECT, starting at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.

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

ICYMI: Walorski Attends Hearing with Members of House Bipartisan Task Force to Combat Heroin Epidemic

WASHINGTON D.C. – In an effort to combat the nationwide public health crisis surrounding heroin addiction which has grown dramatically in scope over the last decade, Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02), a member of the House Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, met with fellow task force members today to hear from experts to continue to discuss drug treatment programs that can produce the most successful recovery rates among heroin users. The task force aims to develop best practices and foster interagency collaboration to address this growing heroin epidemic.

Walorski, who is also a member of House Veterans Affairs’ Committee, has been involved in discussions regarding the impact of drug addiction specifically as it relates to veterans. Last month, she wrote a letter to the Department of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter requesting more information regarding how the Defense Department (DoD) plans to minimize drug addiction after recent reports detailed a rise in the misuse of prescription drugs by members of the Armed Forces. In addition, prescriptions of four potent opiates to veterans have more than tripled since 9/11, contributing to drug abuse, addiction and suicide. Because of this, Walorski introduced legislation requiring the Department of Veteran Affairs report to state prescription drug-monitoring programs to more closely monitor the amount of narcotics prescribed to veteran patients.

Click here to watch her comments.

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.

Walorski Votes to Save Lives, Improve Medical Research

WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) today voted for legislation that will help save lives by accelerating the discovery and development of therapies to transform the quest for faster cures.

H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, would modernize clinical trials to expedite the development of new drugs and devices, remove regulatory uncertainty in the development of new medical apps, and break down barriers to facilitate increased research collaboration.

“It’s unacceptable that it takes 15 years for a new drug to move from the lab to the local pharmacy. We must bring our health care innovation infrastructure into the 21st Century,” Walorski said. “Today brings us one step closer to delivering hope for patients and loved ones while providing necessary resources to researchers, including those in my district like Victoria Zellmer, who are working to develop the next generation of cures and treatments.”

Last week, Walorski met with Zellmer, a local cancer researcher and Notre Dame student, to discuss the device she created along with her colleagues to detect and diagnose cancer earlier in patients. H.R. 6 would boost funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which could potentially fund medical research, like Zellmer’s.

“I want to thank Rep. Walorski for her support,” Zellmer said. “This is an important step to revamp health innovations. Not only does the 21st Century Cures Act provide funding for basic research but also delivers a huge impact on development of future cures.”

The bill passed by a vote of 344-77 and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Walorski Votes to Preserve Medicare for Hoosier Seniors

WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) issued the following statement after the House passed legislation today to repeal sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that establish the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an entity that would have the authority to cut access to Medicare services that seniors depend on and could have devastating consequences.

H.R. 1190, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2015 would repeal the IPAB. This was created as a provision in Obamacare to give a panel of 15 unelected bureaucrats sweeping authority to reduce the growth of Medicare spending by determining which medical procedures Medicare would cover.

“Over one million Hoosier seniors rely on Medicare to provide critical care and support, including my own mother. Repealing this onerous board will protect seniors from its harmful consequences,” Walorski said. “Today, Congress took another step towards dismantling another burdensome and harmful piece of Obamacare. It’s imperative we provide consumer-based, pro-taxpayer health care reform.”

The legislation passed the House by a vote of 244-154 and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Walorski Statement on Repeal of Medical Device Tax

WASHINGTON D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) issued the following statement after the House passed legislation to repeal the Medical Device Tax. H.R. 160, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2015, which Walorski is an original co-sponsor, repeals the 2.3 percent tax on device sales, a significant funding mechanism for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare.

“It’s time to stop propping up Obamacare with a tax on the medical device industry at the expense of the Hoosier economy,” Walorski said. “Because of this burdensome tax, businesses in my district, like Complexus Medical, have been forced to cut their budgets on research and development. This has impeded their discovery of innovative medical technologies. Today, Republicans and Democrats lifted a barrier to the growth of a vital industry. In doing so, the House continued its focus to enable a business climate that encourages, not penalizes, innovation and allows the medical device industry to grow, create jobs, and produce new, live-saving technologies.”

Michael Behrens, Vice President of Operations for Complexus, an orthopedic instrument manufacturer located Mishawaka, thanked Walorski for her support of the legislation. “What’s bad for our customers is bad for us and for too long, this tax on sales of medical devices has prevented our customers from discovering new innovations in the medical device industry and inhibited new products from being developed. We thank Rep. Walorski for supporting a repeal of this burdensome tax and her leadership in Congress. ”

The legislation passed the House by a vote of 280-140 and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Walorski Joins Martin’s Super Market & Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Touts Legislation to End Hunger

MISHAWAKA – Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) visited Martin’s Super Market in South Bend today in an effort to tout legislation that encourages businesses to donate food inventory to local food shelters. During the visit, Walorski was joined by Rob Bartels, CEO and president of Martin’s Super Market and Milt Lee, executive director of the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.

Last week, the House passed legislation that would allow tax deductions for charitable contributions of food inventory. H.R. 644, The Fighting Hunger Incentive Act, permanently extends the deduction for businesses to donate food inventory to local food shelters and pantries.

“Hoosiers are known for helping one another, and the spirit of charity is an important part of our state’s culture. The Fighting Hunger Incentive Act makes it easier for businesses and individuals to support charities of their choosing while lowering their tax burdens. Charities and nonprofits play a critical role in making our communities better places to live, and I am proud to support them in their work,” Walorski said.

During the visit, Walorski, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture and chair of the Nutrition Subcommittee, thanked Martin’s and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana for their continued efforts to help feed Michiana’s hungry.

“This bill represents a bipartisan opportunity to help organizations like the Food Bank to rescue millions of pounds of food locally, and billions nationally. It will enhance the incentive for growers and farmers, which is critical to securing more produce and dairy, and make it permanent for all business taxpayers like grocery store,” Lee said.

“Northern Indiana is home to more than 50 food pantries and a hunger rate of 17 percent. With this legislation, Hoosiers are one step closer to ending food insecurity in Indiana,” said Walorski.

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

Walorski Statement on HIP 2.0

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) released the following statement after Governor Mike Pence’s announcement of the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 this morning:

“I applaud today’s announcement to cover an additional 350,000 uninsured Hoosiers while also improving access to health care statewide. Consumer-driven health care provides choice and reduces costs. After serving in the Indiana Legislature, I understand the importance of allowing our state to develop the best solutions for Hoosiers, not Washington. Indiana is the first and only state to successfully apply private, market-based, consumer-driven reforms to a Medicaid population. I commend Governor Pence for this modified and improved version of the Healthy Indiana Plan that will give more Hoosiers access to quality health care.”

WALORSKI TESTIFIES IN HEARING TO PROTECT LOW-INCOME AND MINORITY SENIORS

Walorski introduces bill to examine harmful cuts to the Medicare Advantage program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) testified today before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce regarding legislation she authored called the Advantage of Medicare Advantage for Minorities and Low-Income Seniors Act of 2014 (H.R. 4211). This legislation would require the Government Accountability Office to study the number of minority and low-income seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage, and to assess the impacts of cuts to the program resulting from the Affordable Care Act.

“Medicare Advantage is a vital program for low-income and minority seniors. The Affordable Care Act and its regulations have placed a huge burden on the Medicare Advantage program, the results of which will be felt by those seniors we have promised to care for. These cuts to the program have the potential to unfairly affect both low income and minority populations. The legislation I introduced will help Congress determine the specific impact cuts are having on Medicare Advantage and will enable Members to better protect the many seniors who depend on this program,” said Congresswoman Walorski.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Medicare programs were cut by over $700 billion, including $300 billion in reductions to the Medicare Advantage program. Medicare Advantage plans offer an out-of-pocket maximum to protect seniors against unpredictable costs.

In Indiana’s Second Congressional District, twenty-seven percent of Hoosiers have chosen to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans compared to twenty-two percent statewide. According to a study by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), one in five of those enrolled in Medicare advantage plans are minorities, and forty-one percent of enrollees have annual incomes of less than $20,000. Studies show that enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans have lower hospital readmissions, receive higher quality care, and enjoy better health outcomes as compared to similar plans in traditional Fee-for-Service Medicare.

Congresswoman Walorski’s testimony was part of a hearing by the committee to determine how to allow seniors to keep their Medicare Advantage Plans.

WALORSKI APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF GABRIELLA MILLER KIDS FIRST RESEARCH ACT

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Congresswoman Jackie Walorski today applauded the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan passage of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act (H.R. 2019), a bill she co-sponsored. This bill would redirect $126 million in federal funding for presidential campaigns and conventions to pediatric medical research.

“It is wonderful to see lawmakers from both parties working together to pass a commonsense bill that redirects funding to pediatric medical research, helping families in Indiana and across the nation. This straightforward legislation will support new initiatives to improve medical technology and find cures for our children.”

Several children’s advocacy associations support the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Several months ago, Congresswoman Walorski met with local children, parents, and community members from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to discuss their goals and hear about the everyday challenges facing families. Passage of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act will allocate funding for juvenile diabetes research and many others—including but not limited to autism, childhood cancer, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome.

Following passage in the Senate, the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act has been sent to the president’s desk where it awaits his signature.

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