Senator Joe Donnelly

Donnelly-Rounds Bill to Help Address Veterans’ Opioid Abuse Passes Senate

Washington, D.C. – Last evening, the U.S. Senate passed the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation introduced this summer in the Senate by U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), and in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-2) and Congressman Brad Wenstrup (OH-2). The bipartisan bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this year and now heads to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law. 

The bill would clarify current law to allow the VA to share data with state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) for patients who are prescribed opioids by VA providers, including both veterans and their dependents. This legislation, for example, would enable the VA to share data with Indiana’s prescription drug monitoring program, INSPECT. VA is currently only sharing prescription data on veterans, not their dependents or others treated by VA providers, due to technical issues related to the VA’s health records system. As a result, a significant amount of VA prescription data is not being shared with the state’s prescription drug monitoring program. 

Donnelly said, “The VA is a major prescriber of opioids and prescription drugs and must be a full partner in our all-hands-on-deck effort to combat opioid abuse in Indiana and across the country. This bipartisan legislation would ensure that VA hospitals and clinics are in line with their non-VA counterparts and allow VA facilities to fully partner with INSPECT and similar programs around the country to monitor opioid prescribing practices. Now that the Senate has passed our legislation, I hope it will be signed into law soon by the President.” 

Rounds said, “Opioid abuse is widespread throughout the United States. Sadly, many of our veterans suffer from addiction to prescription painkillers prescribed to them by doctors to treat pain or injuries stemming from their service to our country. Our bill updates current law to give the VA authority to securely share patient data with state prescription drug monitoring programs. These are crucial systems that reinforce safe prescribing practices to cut down on opioid abuse and protect our veterans. I am pleased to see this bill head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.” 

The VA Prescription Data Accountability Act is supported by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Association of the United States Navy. The Congressional Budget Office has scored the House companion as having no added cost to taxpayers.

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 FM WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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