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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Secures Full Funding for Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act

Baldwin’s Bipartisan Reform Strengthens VA Opioid Prescribing Guidelines and Puts In Place Stronger Oversight and Accountability

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that she secured a significant increase in opioid treatment and prevention funding to support service members at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending bill.

Senator Baldwin was able to include an additional $12 million for opioid treatment and prevention compared to last year, for a total of $385 million in FY18. That total amount includes more than $55 million to continue VA’s implementation of Senator Baldwin’s Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Actwhich was signed into law in 2016.  This new funding will help support the opioid safety initiatives and reforms outlined in “Jason’s Law.”

“Our veterans and their families deserve solutions to problems at the VA and I am proud to have worked across party lines to pass bipartisan VA reform and fully fund Jason’s Law,” said Senator Baldwin. “Together, with the Simcakoski family and Veteran Service Organizations, we took a problem at the VA and worked on a solution that holds the VA accountable, strengthens oversight of their prescribing practices and provides safer care for our veterans.”

By fully funding the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act, the FY18 spending bill directs the VA to improve timeliness of real-time access to data on a patient who was prescribed opioids to prevent overprescribing and abuse and report back to Congress on implementation of the VA Office of Patient Advocacy reforms. “Jason’s Law” funds the VA Office of Patient Advocacy and ensures mandatory use of the Opioid Therapy Risk Report tool throughout the VA.

In addition, “Jason’s Law” put in place the following reforms:

  • Requiring stronger opioid prescribing guidelines and education for VA providers, including stricter standards against prescribing dangerous combinations of opioids with other drugs and for prescribing opioids to patients struggling with mental health issues;
  • Increasing coordination and communication throughout the VA with medical facilities, providers, patients and their families surrounding pain management, alternative treatments for chronic pain and appropriate opioid therapy; and
  • Holding the VA system accountable for appropriate care and quality standards through GAO reviews and VA reports to Congress.

Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation earned the support from: Disabled American Veterans Wisconsin, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Veterans for Common Sense, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Association of the United States Navy (AUSN), Military Health Project, National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), American Veterans (AMVETS), Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Wisconsin Medical Society, Trust for America's Health (TFAH), Harm Reduction Coalition, and the National Safety Council.