House Passes Opioid Legislation Aimed At Tomah VA

Part of the Tomah VA Medical Center.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill aimed at addressing the overprescription of pain medicine at veterans hospitals like Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center. 

The bill is named in honor of Wisconsin native Jason Simakoski, a veteran who sought treatment for anxiety at the Tomah VA and then overdosed on pain medicine. House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters at a Capitol news conference that Simakoski’s death was preventable.

“No one should seek help and receive mistreatment in return,” Ryan said.

In a speech on the House floor, Democratic Rep. Ron Kind of LaCrosse said the bill would fix several problems.

“It improves real-time tracking of and access to the data on opioid use of veterans in order to prevent over-medication,” Kind said.  “It provides additional resources to assist VA’s ability to counter overdoses.”

The bill is part of a bipartisan package of legislation slated to pass the House this week aimed at curbing addiction to prescription opioids.  The bills have broad bipartisan support, though critics say they won’t be effective without more funding.