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Keating Provision to Establish Veterans Opioid Abuse Toolkit Included in DOD Appropriations Bill

Filed in NEWS HEADLINES, politics by on July 31, 2017 0 Comments • views: 338

WASHINGTON, DC (July 28, 2017) — Yesterday, the US House voted in favor of H.R. 3219, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act. Included in that legislation was a provision authored by Congressman Bill Keating that would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish an opioid abuse toolkit for community providers who treat our nation’s veterans.

Today, there is a growing body of evidence that military veterans suffer from increasingly severe and chronic pain. A recent National Institutes of Health study found that almost 65% of veterans reported having some type of pain in the previous three months. Not treated properly, this chronic pain can lead to decreased quality of life, depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and even suicide.

According to VA data, roughly 523,000 veterans are receiving prescriptions for opioids, and the number of veterans with opioid-use disorders spiked by 55% between 2011 and 2016. Additionally, the American Public Health Association found that veterans are twice as likely to overdose on prescription opioids as the general population.

The Veterans Health Administration launched the Opioid Safety Initiative in 2014, which promotes safer opioid prescribing in the Department in an effort to combat the growing opioid crisis. The Keating Provision would make those resources also available to non-VA community healthcare providers who see veterans through the Choice Act and other VA Community Care programs.

Providing critical resources to non-VA providers is not without precedent. Currently, there is a similar toolkit now available for community providers on mental health services.

Said Congressman Keating:

“My provision is straightforward. It would direct the VA to utilize many of the same opioid safety resources already available to VA health providers and create a similar toolkit for community healthcare providers who help veterans with opioid use disorders. The toolkit will promote safe prescribing practices, provide additional resources for effective pain management, and ultimately save lives.

“We are fortunate to live in a time when members of the military are surviving combat injuries at unprecedented rates. As our nation welcomes home thousands of veterans from missions around the world, we must be better prepared to provide those  who suffer from chronic pain with the help they need. It is the responsibility of this Congress to do our part to ensure they are receiving the level of healthcare they deserve, regardless of where that healthcare is provided.”



Press Release courtesy the Office of Congressman William Keating

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