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For Veterans: Addressing Opioid Abuse, Modernizing the Appeals Process, and More

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May 23, 2017 | Ian Martorana (202-225-3031) | comments

Last week on the Hugh Hewitt Show, Paul remarked that “we’re busy doing our work,” here in the House. That remains true this week, with a focus on bipartisan bills to help our veterans. These initiatives may not garner a lot of attention in the press—there’s no conflict here—but they matter.

Consider the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act: Did you know the VA estimates that it will take approximately five years to resolve the backlog of appeals that are currently pending? That’s nearly 500,000 appeals—that’s too many veterans waiting far too long for resolution. Veterans who have a disability as a result of their service to our country should not have to deal with a fundamentally broken system.

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act would create three “lanes” for veterans’ appeals, a marked improvement over the current system. By streamlining the process, VA can give veterans the certainty they deserve.

Another bill, the No Hero Left Untreated Act, focuses on treating veterans with mental health issues or chronic pain. Here’s what you need to know:

-- Nearly 20 veterans commit suicide every single day; and

-- In 2001, 27 percent of veterans suffered from a mental health condition or substance abuse disorder; in 2014, that number rose to 40 percent.

It’s no secret that fighting the opioid epidemic is a priority for Paul. Opioid abuse is a particular scourge among veterans, and is a prominent problem in Wisconsin: Over the last ten years, deaths from opioid overdose in the state have almost doubled.

The No Hero Left Untreated Act would create a pilot program to explore Magnetic Resonant Theory—an FDA approved treatment for depression—which has been used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries with success, and can help reduce the VA’s reliance on subscription medication to treat chronic pain or mental health issues (between 2001 and 2014, the number of prescription opioids subscribed by VA providers has jumped over 250 percent).

There are more bills (you can get the full list here), like the VA Scheduling Accountability Act, which would help rectify the poor scheduling practices that led to serious scandals and even veteran deaths, or legislation to give veterans a cost-of-living-adjustment.

Paul’s predecessor, John Boehner, used to say that about 90 percent of what Congress does is bipartisan. It’s the other 10 percent that tends to get all the attention. Bipartisanship is not rare. It is just rarely noted.

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