Ron Kind: Bill could prevent problems like those at Tomah VA

Kind introduces Veterans Pain Management Improvement Act

Congressman Ron Kind says he hopes to establish regional pain management boards through the Department of Veterans Affairs to help prevent problems like those that occurred at a Tomah medical center.

Kind introduced the bipartisan Veterans Pain Management Improvement Act, saying he hopes the accountability boards would deter overmedicating. The Tomah hospital is under investigation for allegations of overprescribing practices and retaliatory behavior.

A VA report earlier this month found that patients at the facility were more likely than those at other VA hospitals to receive high doses of narcotics. The report also found that patients at the facility were more likely to receive opioids and benzodiazepines, a prescription discouraged because it can cause complications. A 35-year-old Marine died of an overdose in the hospital’s inpatient care unit last year.

“Giving veteran patients and their families a real role in VA oversight is an important way we can ensure that the lessons learned from the problems at Tomah help inform the VA to provide better care for veterans nationwide,” Kind said. “This bill will help prevent the tragic events at Tomah from happening again. We owe a debt to our veterans that can never truly be repaid. What we can do is honor their sacrifice by working to provide veterans with the best care possible.”

Kind said the Veterans Pain Management Improvement Act would establish a pain management board within each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) comprised of health care professionals and clinical patients and/or family members of a clinical patient.

Kind said the pain management boards would:

¬†Serve as a resource for the region’s facilities, patients, and family members
Provide best practices recommendations for pain management to the VA facilities within its region, including patient, family member and medical perspectives Provide an annual report to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs about pain management practices within its region: what is working and what is not working Report to Congress, so that there is greater accountability on pain management practices

Kind’s office said the bill is based on a recommendation by the VA Office of Inspector General, which proposes collaborative boards as a way to improve pain management practices at VA hospitals. The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) has endorsed this legislation.