On one-year anniversary of the passage of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act, bipartisan veterans appropriations legislation passes committee with full funding for Baldwin reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, applauded the passage of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations legislation this week.
The bipartisan legislation makes important investments in Wisconsin’s veterans, including full funding for the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act, which passed the Senate and was signed into law by President Obama one year ago this month.
“One year ago, we successfully passed bipartisan VA reform legislation named in honor of a Marine veteran from Wisconsin. Today, we continue to build on this progress with bipartisan legislation that will help ensure our veterans have the high quality care they have earned and deserve,” said Senator Baldwin. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’m proud to have worked across party lines to invest in these important VA reforms and move this legislation forward to the full Senate.”
The appropriations legislation will also help increase VA oversight and accountability, and includes a Baldwin VA reform to protect veterans seeking care through VA community care programs, like the Choice Program, from being treated by doctors who have been fired or who are suspended by the VA. In addition, the bipartisan legislation builds on Senator Baldwin’s effort to fund research into the complex set of Gulf War Illness symptoms to ensure more effective treatments are available to our veterans.
Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act
The veterans appropriations legislation passed in committee would continue funding for the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act to promote oversight of opioid prescribing practices and pain management at VA facilities.
By fully funding the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act, the bipartisan appropriations legislation will fund the VA Office of Patient Advocacy and continue mandatory use of the Opioid Therapy Risk Report tool throughout the VA. The legislation will also fund the implementation of the Opioid Therapy and Clinical Practice Guidelines for the VA in conjunction with the CDC to ensure our VA health care providers use the most up-to-date prescribing guidelines. There will also be full funding for the VA’s continued use of State prescription drug monitoring programs to help ensure the VA detects and reduces fraud, diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.
VA Oversight and Accountability
The veterans appropriations legislation includes Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan Veterans ACCESS Act – a VA reform to protect veterans seeking care through VA community care programs, like the Choice Program, from being treated by doctors who have been fired or who are suspended by the VA.
The appropriations legislation also includes reforms from Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan Veterans’ Identity Theft Protection Act.
A news investigation in Wisconsin revealed that the Social Security numbers of hundreds of Wisconsin veterans were sent to an unauthorized person last year. This unintended disclosure of personal information put veterans and their families at risk for fraud and identity theft. This legislation would require VA to stop using Social Security account numbers to identify individuals in all information systems used by the VA.
Improving Veteran’s Health Care
Senator Baldwin pushed to have this appropriations legislation to include investments and improvements to the general health care of veterans across the country.
The legislation builds on Senator Baldwin’s effort to fund research into the complex set of Gulf War Illness symptoms to ensure more effective treatments are available to our veterans. This legislation strengthens investments in the VA Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, increases awareness of how Gulf War veterans are accessing benefits and enhances ongoing studies and research into the causes of and treatments for Gulf War Illness.
The legislation improves stroke care at all VA facilities. Specifically, the legislation instructs the VA to increase the use of stroke telemedicine, or telestroke, within VA medical centers that do not currently have around-the-clock neurological expertise available to veterans who suffer a stroke. Telestroke has proven to be beneficial in improving access to high quality stroke care in rural and underserved areas and in reducing disability and the need for long-term care following a stroke.