House Veterans’ Affairs Committee holds opioid roundtable

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJHL) – Chairman Phil Roe (R), TN-District 1, and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hosted a roundtable this week to discuss the opioid crisis and “Impacts, Challenges, and Solutions for Veterans.”

Along with Rep. Roe, 16 other lawmakers took part in Tuesday’s closed door meeting, as well as President Trump’s advisor Kellyanne Conway, law enforcement and representatives from several federal agencies, according to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

The committee reports the roundtable group discussed the VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative, prescribing guidelines and training for doctors who treat chronic pain and alternative pain management therapies, among other things.

Over the last seven months, veterans locally have raised concerns about Mountain Home VA’s efforts to wean them off of pain medications to treat their chronic pain. The VA started to reduce its prescribing of opioids last fall. Administrators have said they are convinced there are more effective, safer ways to treat chronic pain.

“I understand their fear, their anxiety and their anger, but I want them to understand this is driven by our concern for their safety,” Mountain Home VA’s Dr. Martin Eason said in December.

Dr. Eason is now working a detail with the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and sat in on the roundtable this week.

We identified almost 300 opioid-related complaints at Mountain Home VA earlier this year. Mountain Home VA administrators have maintained they are trying to reduce opioids on a case-by-case basis.

According to the committee, although people at the roundtable believed the VA is making significant improvements when it comes to protecting veterans from opioid addiction, there are still concerns that each veteran’s unique case must be treated individually and based on his or her own needs.

List of people in attendance, according to House Veterans’ Affairs Committee:

Member Attendees:

Chairman Roe

Ranking Member Walz

Rep. O’Rourke

Rep. Brownley

Rep. Bilirakis

Rep. Esty

Rep. Poliquin

Rep. Takano

Rep. Arrington

Rep. Higgins

Rep. Dunn

Rep. Kuster

Rep. Wenstrup

Rep. Correa

Rep. Rutherford

Rep. Bergman

Rep. Rice

Other Attendees:

Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President

Laurence Meyer, M.D., Chief Officer for Specialty Care, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Nina Schaefer, Senior Counselor, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Christopher Jones PharmD, MPH, Acting Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Science and Data Policy, ASPE, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E., Deputy Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health

Grant Baldwin, Ph.D., M.P.H., Director, Division of Unintentional Injury, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Center for Disease Control

Demetra Ashley, Acting Assistant Administrator, Diversion Control Division, Drug Enforcement Administration

Kimberly Johnson, Ph.D., Director, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Erin Krebs, M.D., M.P.H., Women’s Health Medical Director, Minneapolis VA Health Care System/Core Investigator, Minneapolis VA Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research/Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota

Ali Mchaourab, M.D., Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, and Director, Cleveland Specialty Care, Access Network, Cleveland VA Medical Center/ Case Western Reserve University/Chief, Pain Medicine Service

Warren Goldstein, Director, Legislative Division, The American Legion

Amy Webb, Legislative Policy Advisor, AMVETS

Kayda Keleher, Associate Director, National Legislative Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

Sally Satel, M.D., Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute/Lecturer, Yale University School of Medicine/Consulting Psychiatrist, Partners in Drug Abuse Rehabilitation and Counseling

John Renner, M.D., President, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry

Esco Jarnagin, Sheriff, Hamblen County, TennesseeCopyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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