WASHINGTON, DC – Dr. Neal Dunn’s (FL-02) Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act passed the House today, increasing transparency among VA prescribing of controlled substances. Dunn’s bill, H.R. 3832, directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to connect VA health care providers to a national network of state-based Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). PDMPs track prescribing data to identify abuse patterns in patients.
Just like private sector physicians, VA doctors consult state-based PDMPs before prescribing potentially dangerous pain medications to veterans. VA doctors, however, lack the ability to consult a nationwide network of state-based PDMPs that can identify someone from another state who is at high risk for abuse, overdose, and death.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of my legislation, the Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act, which works to protect our veterans from the devastation of addiction.
More than 140 individuals every day are dying from opioid abuse in the United States and opioids have resulted in the deaths of more Americans than the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam wars together over the same time period.
Unfortunately, the news is even worse for our Veterans. Former VA Secretary McDonald stated “Veterans are 10X more likely to abuse opioids than the average American,” and that this is the leading cause of homelessness among Veterans.
In 2016 alone, the VA treated 66,000 veterans for opioid addiction.
Mr. Speaker, it is clear that we are failing our nation’s heroes, and frankly, that is unacceptable.
That’s why I introduced the Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act – to ensure no veteran slips through the cracks. My bill increases opioid prescribing transparency at the VA and allows VA doctors to do what most private sector physicians already do – they access state databases listing all opioid prescriptions from all providers.
This allows physicians to easily identify patterns of opioid use that puts patients at risk for addiction.
Once physicians are able to accurately identify patterns of use, and abuse, we can curb this epidemic and ensure our veterans are getting the best possible care.
Mr. Speaker, as a Veteran and a Doctor, I take my responsibility to serve those who fought for our freedoms very seriously.
We can do more for our veterans, and we must do more to support and protect them.
I believe my Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act does exactly that.
I urge all of my colleagues to support this important legislation.