VCS Supports the VA Prescription Drug Accountability Act

(Washington – Mar. 15, 2017) – Veterans for Common Sense, a national veterans advocacy organization, today sent the following letter of support for the VA Prescription Drug Accountability Act to the legislation’s co-authors:

“Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) is in strong support of the VA Prescription Drug Accountability Act.

“VCS remains an ardent supporter of measures to combat opioid and other prescription drug abuse while ensuring veterans with pain and other medical conditions remain able to get the treatment and relief they need.  VCS also remains strongly supportive of measures to improve, enhance, and modernize the VA, including important new accountability measures such as those included with this legislation.

“Thank you to Ranking Member Kuster, Chairman Wenstrup, Chairman Bergman, and Ranking Member Brownley for your authorship and leadership on this important measure.  Please feel welcome to cite VCS’s for this legislation as you may see fit.

-VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE”

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HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS’ AFFAIRS PRESS RELEASE
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Committee Leaders Introduce VA Prescription Safety Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee Chairmen Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Jack Bergman (R-MI), along with Ranking Members Julia Brownley (D-CA) and Ann Kuster (D-NH) released the following statements following introduction of the VA Prescription Drug Accountability Act:

“Keeping pressure on the VA when it comes to combating the national prescription drug abuse epidemic is not a Democrat issue or Republican issue – it is an American issue,” said Wenstrup. “I’m pleased to cosponsor this bipartisan bill to close a loophole in VHA’s ability to effectively communicate with state prescription monitoring programs.”

“Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It extends beyond cultural, racial, and socio-economic boundaries and impacts every part of our society—even those who have served and fought for this country,” said Bergman. “That’s why transparency and accountability are so essential in the VA’s internal monitoring and information sharing procedures. I’m proud to support this legislation that takes critical steps to improve those processes and protect our Veterans and their loved ones from the effects of opioid addiction.”

“I co-sponsored the VA Prescription Drug Accountability Act because we need to improve VA’s internal monitoring, and information sharing practices, related to opioid prescription drugs,” said Brownley. “Increasing accountability and transparency will improve the quality of care at the VA and help prevent opioid addiction among veterans.”

“The Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the largest prescribers of narcotics in the country and any effective national prescription drug monitoring program must include the VA,” said Kuster. “Last year, the data for hundreds of thousands of non-Veteran patients seen at the VA were not shared with PDMP programs due to a simple technical oversight, greatly reducing their effectiveness. We are in the grips of a national opioid addiction epidemic and this commonsense reform will help improve the monitoring of opioid prescription drugs, which have helped fuel this crisis.”

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Background: This bill, led by Rep. Kuster, would clarify current law to stipulate that the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is required to disclose information to state controlled substance monitoring programs for anyone – veteran or non-veteran – who is prescribed these medications through VA.

Under current law, when VHA providers prescribe a controlled substance, VHA is required to disclose that information to the appropriate state controlled substance monitoring program. Due to VistA’s inability to differentiate between dependents and other non-veterans, VHA is currently only transmitting data for veteran patients, leaving out approximately 10% of VHA’s patient population who are dependents or other non-veterans who meet certain qualifications to receive prescriptions from VHA.

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One Response to VCS Supports the VA Prescription Drug Accountability Act

  1. My story is personal to me but relates to 100,000’s Veterans.

    My husband just passed away from complications of Hepatitis C which was

    service connected-disabled veteran since 2007. Since his death in February 2017

    I researched why and how are our Veterans five times more likely to have Hep C

    compared to the civilian population, veterans administration say they don’t know

    why veterans are five times more likely to have Hep c than the civilian population,

    but they agree with the numbers.

    My research shows that the only common denominator from veterans in the

    military from 1949 thru 1998 peace or war time was the Airguns used to

    vaccinate soldiers upon entry. This air gun was able to immunize 400 soldiers

    every hour, there were no universal precautions used and cross contamination

    was at an high from blood being transferred from one soldier to the next.

    I entered the U.S. Army twice, first in 1981 and then again in 1998 and also

    immunized by these airguns but luckily maintain to be Hep C free.

    Since 2014 there has been a cure for Hep C. The Veterans administration

    has picked and chose which veteran qualifies for this cure for a virus that

    had these soldiers not entered the military would have never contracted this

    deadly virus. There were over 30 million soldiers who entered the Armed forces

    from 1949 thru 1998. Many of these soldiers have since died, probably a painful

    death due to Hep C being untreated eventually destroys the liver and then turns

    to liver cancer. The new drugs out since 2014 cost $1000 per day and it is

    required to be taken for 12 weeks which equals $90,000 per soldier to cure

    them from this virus that was service connected.

    My hope is for you to help me raise awareness and help get the soldiers aware

    and their families that it is likely if they were in the military between 1949 thru

    1998 and have Hep C, Cirrhosis, or Liver cancer before or after their death then

    it was probably contracted from the airgun immunization administered upon

    entry to the military.

    My husband was 56 years old when he died this past February, his Hep C was

    100% service connected and he was given full disability, but they always said he

    was not a good candidate for Hep C treatment but never gave a reason why..

    I have written a book ( self published ) on Amazon to help veterans and/or their

    families become aware of this issue and to help them know the symptoms they or

    their loved one will have the last 32 days of life.

    Sincerely,

    Deborah Nicolo

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