U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly Friday lauded the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for its new practice of publicly posting information on the number of opioid prescriptions from VA pharmacies. The VA is the first hospital system in the nation to publicly release this data, which does not include veterans’ personal information. In November 2017, bipartisan legislation proposed by Donnelly and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) was signed into law by President Trump, allowing the VA to share data with state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs – including the INSPECT program, Indiana’s monitoring program.
Donnelly said, “It will take all of us working together, on every front, to combat this devastating opioid epidemic. Expanded information and data sharing by the VA will help in this fight, and I applaud their action. This builds on my bipartisan legislation, which was recently signed into law, to ensure that the VA can work with prescription drug monitoring programs, like Indiana’s INSPECT program, to reduce opioid abuse.”
Over the past few years Donnelly has worked effectively to advance legislation to combat this public health crisis. He has introduced seven bills and amendments with seven different Republican partners and several of these provisions are now law. Last year, several of Donnelly’s provisions were signed into law, and he successfully advocated and continues to advocate for funding that would expand prevention and treatment programs. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act, both of which Donnelly helped pass into law, have programs and funding to combat the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemics. Through the Cures Act, Donnelly helped Indiana secure nearly $11 million in federal grant funding this year that will support prevention, treatment, and recovery services across the state. Donnelly has spoken in the Senate several times in recent months calling for more resources to combat the opioid epidemic.