Congress is moving legislation that would change how the VA manages Veterans in pain, with particular focus on prescription opioids.
Introduced by Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), H.R. 4063, the Promoting Responsible Opioid Management and Incorporating Scientific Expertise Act (PROMISE Act) is intended to help Veterans by promoting safety, patient advocacy, and better access to quality care. The legislation is gaining support from both Republicans and Democrats.
This PROMISE Act is expected to increase safety for opioid therapy by a) requiring the VA and DOD to update their Clinical Practice Guidelines for Management of Opioid Therapy for Chronic Pain, b) having VA opioid prescribers gain access to enhanced pain management and safe opioid prescribing education and training, and c) having the VA increase information sharing with state licensing boards.
“The tragic death of Marine Corp. Veteran Jason Simcakoski in the Tomah, Wisconsin VA Medical Facility prompted the need for Congressional action,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “This August, nearly one year from Jason’s death, the Office of Inspector General released a report that concluded Jason’s cause of death was due to mixed drug toxicity and the combination of various medications was the plausible mechanism of action for a fatal outcome. In light of this unfortunate and possibly avoidable tragedy, I am proud to introduce the PROMISE Act. This legislation will further my efforts to help our Veterans receive the quality care they have earned. My PROMISE Act will provide our Veterans safer, more personalized care to deal with the physical and mental wounds they are facing and will help improve efficiency at the VA.”
“When American Veterans are suffering, too often the only treatment they’re offered comes in a pill bottle,” said Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY). “Over-prescribing powerful pain medications puts Veterans at serious risk of addiction, accidental overdose and mental health problems, and it can often only worsen the pain that brought them to the doctor in the first place. This bipartisan bill will help prevent over-prescription by improving oversight of both the doctors who prescribe the drugs and the Veterans who take them, and by expanding access to alternative pain management therapies. We have to take action to get this legislation passed and get all of our Veterans the quality care they deserve.”
The PROMISE Act has companion legislation in the U.S. Senate, where both bills are currently in committee.
The legislation has gained support from a variety of veterans groups including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, and Paralyzed Veterans of America.