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Saturday, July 23, 2016

PROMISE Act signed into law, praised by Sen. Baldwin and Congressman Kind

WASHINGTON D.C. - President of the United States Barack Obama signed the Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act, into law Friday. This important legislation, named after a Wisconsin veteran who tragically passed away at the Tomah VA in 2014, helps fix a number of the problems that were seen at the Tomah VA.

“Today, with President Obama signing the Jason Simcakoski Promise Act into law, we have made a significant step forward in addressing the opiate epidemic and giving veterans and their families the tools they need and the accountability they deserve. Much of the credit for this victory lies with the Simcakoski family, who have worked tirelessly with our office and others to make sure no other family has to go through what they have and create a legacy Jason would be proud of. I will continue to work with them and others to ensure our veterans receive the care they have earned and deserve,” said Wisconsin Congressman Ron. Kind of the Third District. Kind had helped write the legislation.

This bipartisan legislation requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to update pain management guidelines, strengthens provider education and training, improves patient advocacy, and authorizes a new commission to examine alternative treatments, among other provisions.
Wisconsin U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin also helped to author the new law in close consultation with medical professionals, veterans service organizations, and the Simcakoski family, focuses on strengthening the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) opioid prescribing guidelines and improving pain management services by putting the following reforms in place:
·       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.

“I’m proud to have worked with the Simcakoski family to introduce these VA reforms. We earned bipartisan support in Congress and I’m very pleased President Obama has signed them into law,” said Senator Baldwin. “Our VA reforms will strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs’ opioid prescribing guidelines and put in place stronger oversight and accountability for the quality of care that we are providing our veterans. My goal is to prevent Jason’s tragedy from happening to other veterans and their families. We have made these reforms a reality and moved closer to achieving our goal of safer and more effective pain management services for our nation’s veterans.”
In addition to improving opioid therapy and pain management, the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act strengthens the VA’s patient advocacy program by ensuring advocates are independent and truly work for veterans, expands access to complementary and integrative health and wellness, and enhances VA hiring practices to help prevent bad doctors from treating veterans.

The Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act is supported by Disabled Veterans of America, American 
Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

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