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Donnelly, Rounds Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Improve VA Data Sharing and Combat Opioid Abuse Epidemic

July 16, 2017

My Approved PortraitsU.S. Senators Joe Donnelly and Mike Rounds (R-SD) announced Friday that they introduced the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation that would clarify current law to allow the VA to share data with state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) for patients who are prescribed opioids by VA providers, including both veterans and their dependents. This legislation, for example, would enable the VA to share data with Indiana’s prescription drug monitoring program, INSPECT. VA is currently only sharing prescription data on veterans, not their dependents or others treated by VA providers, due to technical issues related to the VA’s health records system. As a result, a significant amount of VA prescription data is not being shared with the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

Donnelly said, “Addressing the opioid abuse and prescription drug use epidemics will continue to require us to work together.  As a major prescriber of opioids and prescription drugs nationwide, we must ensure the VA is a full partner in efforts to improve care and protect patients. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleague Senator Rounds that would bring VA hospitals and clinics in line with their non-VA counterparts and allow VA facilities to fully partner with INSPECT and similar programs around the country to monitor opioid prescribing practices.”

Rounds said, “South Dakota is home to approximately 76,000 veterans who have been promised adequate care from the VA. Our bill simply updates current law to give the VA authority to securely share patient data with state prescription drug monitoring programs; crucial systems that reinforce safe prescribing practices to cut down on opioid abuse and protect our vets. I look forward to working with Sen. Donnelly to get this straight-forward, bipartisan, cost-effective legislation signed into law.”

The VA Prescription Data Accountability Act is supported by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Association of the United States Navy. Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-2) and Congressman Brad Wenstrup (OH-2) introduced companion bipartisan legislation that passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Congressional Budget Office has scored the House companion as having no added cost to taxpayers.