A group of bipartisan lawmakers in the House introduced a bill Wednesday, known as the “Veterans HOPE Act,” which seeks to address the opioid epidemic among U.S. veterans.
According to The Hill, Reps. Greg Murphy and Joe Courtney co-sponsored the bill that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct a comprehensive review of overdose deaths within the past five years.
If passed, the bill would require the VA to outline actions it has taken to combat the opioid epidemic, such as providing patients with alternative forms of pain relief besides prescription opiates.
“There are far too many families in our region who have experienced tragedy because of the opioid addiction crisis, or who know someone that has, but what a lot of people don’t know is that this trend is particularly severe among our veterans,” said Rep. Courtney in a statement. “Even though the VA has made efforts to reduce the number of opioids prescribed, rates of opioid overdose deaths continue to rise among veterans.”
Murphy, who is a medical doctor, says the federal government is not doing enough to combat the growing addiction rates among veterans.
“All of the data available suggests that veterans are disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic – and shockingly, veterans who are being treated by the VA are seven times more likely to be diagnosed with an opioid abuse disorder than commercially insured patients,” Murphy said in a joint statement.
This legislation would provide funding for addiction recovery programs, which according to Murphy, is severely underfunded within the VA.
“Our veterans, their families, their friends, and their communities all deserve better, and we simply must do more to help properly research where the deadly addictions start.”