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Kind introduces Simcakoski PROMISE Act
Bill requires updated VA pain management guidelines
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LA CROSSE–U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) joined U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) Nov. 18 to introduce the Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act, which aims to fix a number of problems seen at the Tomah VA, including looking into improved pain management practices.

The legislation is named in honor of  Simcakoski, a Wisconsin veteran who died Aug. 30, 2014, in the Tomah VA’s short-stay mental health unit after having taken 13 prescribed medications, including several that cause respiratory depression, in a 24-hour period.

“We must make sure no other veterans and their families have to go through what the Simcakoski family and others have had to. One of the best ways to do this is to give veteran patients and their families a real role in VA oversight and to provide health care professionals better training on the negative effects of prescription painkillers. This legislation uses some of the lessons learned from problems at Tomah to help the VA provide better care for veterans nationwide,” Kind said.

“The Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act is an important piece of history. Helping our veterans get the best care possible is the ultimate goal. The guidelines in the Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act will help the VA give our veterans and service men and women the best health care they deserve. Our family doesn’t want to see what happened to our son Jason happen to another veteran or service person,” said Marvin Simcakoski, Jason Simcakoski’s father.

The 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. The Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act is similar to the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act in the Senate, which U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced in June with U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

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