Congress Looking to Improve Pain Management for Veterans

Congress Looking to Improve Pain Management for Veterans

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.

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Authored by: Staff

There are 11 comments for this article
  1. Scott michaels at 4:27 pm

    Mr Wicker
    you are one of millions that will suffer because of ballentyne and sullivan. they are exactly what you say money grubbing, fame seeking, narcissistic demons. not only vets like yourself from vietnam but what about all of the other serviceman and women that now live with chronic pain only because you were of service to this country. now lets add in all of the civillians as well that live in chronic pain for what ever reason. we have opioid receptors for a reason, because of their existance in our brains, the medication doctors created so we dont have to live in complete pain. God was looking out for us when he gave doctors the knowledge to invent this medication.
    Now greedy humans with no morals, have been put in a position to dictate our fate. What has this country come to. Congress, the CDC, THE FDA AND ESPECIALLY THOSE AT PROP (THE INITIATORS OF THIS UNGODLY PROPOSAL TO PUT US BACK IN THE HORRIBLE PAIN IT TOOK US SO LONG TO STABILIZE SHOULD BE ASHAMED AND IN THE CASE OF PROP INVESTIGATED FOR MALPRACTICE, WRONGFUL DIAGNOSIS, AND THERE IS NO DOUBT THERE IS A LOT OF MONEY INVOLVED. i would like to know where the buck stopped. .

  2. Leo Wicker USMC vietnam vet Disabled and enduring chronic pain. at 3:40 pm

    This law enforcement approach to health care is criminal in and of itself. Without Opioid pain meds I wouldn’t be able to live a quality life. My pain is so severe I can’t imagine life without the relief readily available for VA to help folks like me. It’s shameful that congress uses the tragic death of a Marine to get some Brownie points from Anti drug groups and look good to their constituents. I challenge these sponsers and co-sponsers to try to live with my pain level for a single day. Where are the voices in congress for Disabled Vets in chronic pain? None of them have the balls to stand up for us? This shameful showboating will cost many more lives than it will ever save. Also, it will ruin quality of life for many more. I’m so ashamed of these Veteran’s organizations for taking the side of these non-medical glory seekers instead of the Disabled who they should be protecting. Like it or not, These meds are the gold standard for chronic severe pain when nothing else works. What are we supposed to do now? I know, just suck it up and realize we’ve been saved from a life of reasonable quality so that these do-gooders can feel good about themselves. Unbelievably short sighted.

  3. Scott michaels at 10:21 am

    you are so right. this unfortunate young man wanted to end his life. should he have used a gun, a rope, or any other number of ways. most people including vets take their meds as prescribed. why are people so ignorant. Especially those at PROP AND OUR GOVT. when peoples meds start to get reduced upwards of 50 to 90%. the pain will become fierce.. group meetings and all the other mumbo jumbo may help with the withdrawls but not the pain.
    here whats going to happen. after about 3 months the pain will completely rake over every thought. then they will start to save pills. once they have enough, say goodbye. that if they dont end life quicker. Gosh darn it! OPOID THERAPY WORKS.
    OUR VETS NEED THEM AS DO THE REST OF THOSE IN EXTREME PAIN DAILY.
    WHEN I READ COMMENTS FEOM DOCTORS IN. AUSTRALIA OR NEW ZEALAND, I LAUGH. THEY HAVE HEROIN PROBLEMS TOO YET BLAME THE PAIN PILLS. GUESS WHAT WAKE THE HECK UP. PEOPLE WILL SEEK OUT COMFORT IF IN DIRE PAIN. TAKE AWAY THE CONTROLLED PILLS, MOST WILL FIND HEROIN. THEN ITS OVER. SOMETIMES I BELIEVE THATS WHAT THE DEA AND CONGRESS WANTS. THEY WANT EVERYBODY IN EXTREME PAIN TO SUFFER SO MUCH THEY TURN TO HEROIN.And were out of the system

    EVERY DEATH FROM THIS POINT ON THAT IS CONSIDERED AN OD, YET THE PATIENT WAS DOING FINE ON PAIN MEDS UNTIL THEY WERE TAKEN AWAY ARE TO BLAME. THEY SHOULD BE HELD BOTH MORALLALY AND FINANCIALLY LIABLE. THEY ARE THE BUS DRIVERS TO HELL.

  4. Jaymie Reed at 4:36 am

    I know a young veteran that died from an overdose while he was sleeping. This is one of the very limited number of Veterans cases that were tragic. This young man had lost a limb and not while on active duty but on the way to the base. The veterans admin., was still kind enough to care for him. This particular young man was never happy and always in pain. There wouldn’t have been enough pain meds in the world to help him. No matter what a doctor prescribed. He would get his pills from the V.A., but then also from pill mills and such. My point is that the VA should in no way be blamed for this mans death..and that in these extreme cases of death the bottom line isn’t from the VA handing out pain meds. It’s from this young mans very own emotional demise and there is nothing not even the V.A. could do about this. My point is that these extreme cases are what they are basing their future treatment of the whole system. Many of our dedicate soldiers are going to suffer in pain and our own government cares more about being in control than the actual person sitting there with the pain. People had better stand up and speak out or on your next appt., you will find a DEA agent sitting with your doctor telling him what and how much they can prescribe!

  5. Kerry McKelvey at 11:27 pm

    I’m forwarding this to EVERY PERSON I KNOW, Congress is either stupid OR criminal and think about what they stood up and said in front of the whole country!! They are going to rescue our nations Veterans from themselves and big bad opioids that causes addiction, mental illness, and everyone knows after all they just makes pain worse! They used a vet who I’m sure they were way under treating his pain and what happened was the result of that and not a “possible” “drug toxicity”from opioids! Of course it’s not because of all the neuro meds and other toxic new drugs (that pours billions of dollars into the most desired stocks of pharmaceutical companies) in people’s bodies! Even seeing this coming it still strikes terror in me! What will happen to each and every vet who has to live one second too long without enough pain control? I mean they already now don’t get enough pain management as it is with their brilliant,”Wish it away” philosophy, “let’s just really show them how much they mean to us for going to hell and back and injured with wounds that would have killed them if not for our wonderful advanced life saving abilities so they live an extended life of hellish neurological damage without the effective managed pain care to relieve their suffering that they deserve to say what THEY want for their life themselves! Not idiot bureaucrats in Washington DC that promised to care for our nations vets! EVERY MILITARY VETERANS ORGANIZATION SHOULD BE OUTRAGED AND PROTESTING THIS BS AND TELL CONGRESS TO GET IT THROUGH THEIR HEADS WHAT EVEN THINKING LIKE THIS BRINGS SUCH A DEEP CHILL THROUGH EVERY VETS SPINE AS THEY REALIZE WHAT CONGRESS HAS PLANS TO DO TO THEM! Why the hell would anyone EVER consider joining the military when they don’t give Uncle Bob enough pain meds so he screamed right up until the suicide”. This lie is going to be the most disgusting and dangerous lie in our nations history and everyone is believing it for now! I have to avoid using the VA for my healthcare and travel two states over and pay cash to receive proper pain management for my severe moment to moment pain and I’d call myself extremely lucky today for that option! I’m sad to say I heard so many unbelievably ignorant comments from Drs first hand! It’s happening now folks! And it’s criminal!

  6. Deborah Calkins at 4:14 pm

    Just because a few people overdose..that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t manage our pain pills! This is not a fair situation..we don’t mind being on pain management contracts just don’t take our medication opoids away. For most of us…we need opoids to be able to have a “decent” quality of life!

  7. BL at 3:33 pm

    The private sector is the only hope Veterans have for medication pain management now. I often wonder if the VA isn’t refusing pain meds to Veterans as a way to save VA money in addition to other reasons they give.

  8. Kathy Childers at 1:39 pm

    Look out, Veterans. Congress just “promised” to make it harder for you to get pain medicine and are using the death of a Veteran as their excuse. Are they going to start telling Veterans to try yoga or alternative medicines like they do with chronic pain patients? Or maybe they’ll just tell you to “suck it up, Marine”. Are they going to send Veterans to a Pain Psychologist so he can tell them that their pain is all in their head? That is working so well for chronic pain patients! (NOT!) Congress and the CDC need to quit practicing medicine without a license. Please, you are hurting many more than you are helping. Addicts are going to get high no matter how many pain patients you deny medicine to. I’m fed up with this!

  9. Scott michaels at 1:04 pm

    i hope you dont do like vietnam. send them to the streets for heroin.. we had more.vets die from heroin than anyrhing else.

  10. BL at 12:13 pm

    Hopefully the non medication pain management will be helpful and available to all veterans.

  11. shawn smith at 12:12 pm

    Let’s hope these alternative treatments work as they have not for me