Rep. Roe supports opioid cuts, says more oversight needed

WASHINGTON, DC (WJHL) – Congressman Phil Roe (R), TN-District 1, says he supports the VA’s decision to wean veterans off of opioids, but says that’s not enough to fight the national epidemic.

Mountain Home VA sent a letter to patients in September, which clarified its decision to reduce the amount of opioids it prescribes. VA administrators say they based the decision on research and federal guidelines that warn the pain medication, both by itself and in combination with anti-anxiety medications, is dangerous and not as effective as once thought.

Rep. Roe says the VA’s own past practices have exacerbated the national problem.

“While I support the VA’s recent decision to curb opioid prescriptions for veterans whose pain may be able to be treated effectively without their use, there’s no question more needs to be done,” he said in a statement. “As chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I will continue to conduct oversight on this issue to ensure veterans are receiving the care they need from VA and that VHA clinics and hospitals are doing their fair share to combat the opioid epidemic.”

Roughly 11% of Mountain Home VA’s patients, the equivalent of more than 6,000 veterans, are currently on the medications.

In the months since the change, many veterans have raised concerns about the impact. Mountain Home VA has received nearly 300 formal complaints since October, according to federal records.

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