Department of Veterans Affairs Becomes First Hospital System to Release Opioid Prescribing Rates (January 11, 2018)

VA Opioid Interacive Map

Interactive map expands transparency, shows opioids dispensed among VA health care centers.

Timeline of Veteran Suicides, Legislative Efforts, and Nationwide Negligence at the Department of Veterans Affairs

Today U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin announced that VA has begun publicly posting information on opioids dispensed from VA pharmacies, along with VA’s strategies to prescribe these pain medications appropriately and safely.

With this announcement, VA becomes the only health-care system in the country to post information on its opioid-prescribing rates.

The disclosure is part of VA’s promise of transparency to Veterans and the American people, and builds on VA’s strong record of transparency disclosures — including on wait times, accountability actions, employee settlements and the Secretary’s travel — under the leadership of President Donald J. Trump over the past year.

“Many Veterans enrolled in the VA health-care system suffer from high rates of chronic pain and the prescribing of opioids may be necessary medically,” Secretary Shulkin said. “And while VA offers other pain-management options to reduce the need for opioids, it is important that we are transparent on how we prescribe opioids, so Veterans and the public can see what we are doing in our facilities and the progress we have made over time.”

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said, “Declaring the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency was a call to action by the president.  His administration is exploring all tools and authorities within their agencies to address this complex challenge costing lives. Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. Shulkin is heeding that call; the VA is now the first hospital system in the country to post information on its opioid prescribing rates.  This is an innovative way to raise awareness, increase transparency and mitigate the dangers of over-prescribing.”

The interactive map shows data over a five-year period (2012-2017) and does not include Veterans’ personal information. The posted information shows opioid-dispensing rates for each facility and how much those rates have changed over time.

It is important to note that because the needs and conditions of Veterans may be different at each facility, rates may also be different for that reason, and cannot be compared directly.

The prescribing rate information will be updated semi-annually, on January 15 and July 15 of each year.

As a learning health system using the current best evidence to learn and improve, VA continually develops and refines best practices for the care of Veterans. Releasing this data will facilitate the sharing of best practices in pain management and opioid prescribing among doctors and medical center directors.

Highlights from the data include:

  • A 41-percent drop in opioid-prescribing rates across VA between 2012 and 2017
  • Ninety-nine percent of facilities decreased their prescribing rates.
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Cleveland, Ohio, top the list of medical centers with the lowest prescribing rates, at 3 percent.
  • El Paso, Texas, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, are most improved, and decreased prescribing rates by more than 60 percent since 2012. El Paso’s prescribing rate decreased by 66 percent, and Fayetteville’s decreased by 65 percent.

VA currently uses a multifaceted approach to reduce the need for the use of opioids among Veterans. Since 2012, the Opioid Safety Initiative has focused on the safe use and slow and steady decrease in VA opioid dispensing. VA also uses other therapies, including physical therapy and complementary and integrative health alternatives, such as meditation, yoga and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Information about the VA Opioid Safety Initiative may be found here. A link to the interactive map on VA’s opioid use across the nation may be found here.

Source: VA becomes first hospital system to release opioid prescribing rates

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Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas Cosponsored the Military Justice Improvement Act; Says Shouldn’t Have to Report Crime to Boss, Wants MJIA in Place If Daughters Join (July 16, 2013)

Sen. Ted Cruz Q&A in Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Sexual Assaults in the Military -Senator Ted Cruz (June 4, 2013)

Gillibrand Leads Bipartisan Senate Coalition to End Military Sexual Assault -U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (July 16, 2013)

Sen. Ted Cruz Supports Sen. Gillibrand’s Push to Stop Sexual Assault in the Military -Senator Ted Cruz (July 16, 2013)

Sen. Ted Cruz Joins Sen. Gillibrand in Press Conference on Preventing Sexual Assault in the Military -Senator Ted Cruz (November 6, 2013)

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stops by to talk about what she’s doing to protect our soilders from military sexual assault. Find out why she’s getting support from both sides of the aisle and tune in to hear from a survivor. -Katie Couric (November 19, 2013)

Sen. Ted Cruz Speaks In Favor of Gillibrand Amendment to Combat Sexual Assault in the Military (November 20, 2013)

Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz joined the New York Democrat in support of taking the chain of command out of military sexual assault cases. -The Washington Examiner (February 18, 2014)

Senator Ted Cruz speaks out in support of a military sexual assault bill that was blocked in the Senate. -CNN (March 6, 2014)

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[Full Video] Senator Gillibrand was joined by Senators Grassley, Blumenthal, Cruz and Wyden to discuss next steps in the effort to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act. -U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (June 16, 2015)

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Ted Cruz speaks out on sexual assault in the military. -CNN (April 1, 2016)

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is reaching across the aisle to prevent military officers from reaching into their subordinates’ pants. #passMJIA -Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (June 7, 2016)

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S. 1789: Military Justice Improvement Act of 2019 Reintroduced by Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York (June 13, 2019)
Townhall: Paul, Cruz Turn Military Sexual Assault into Bipartisan Issue
Press Release: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Praises Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz for Support of Military Sexual Assault Legislation
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Video Links:
Sen. Ted Cruz Q&A in Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Sexual Assaults in the Military
Gillibrand Leads Bipartisan Senate Coalition to End Military Sexual Assault
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On This Day in History: Army Veteran Timothy McVeigh Convicted for Oklahoma City Bombing (June 2, 1997)

Timothy McVeigh Army

Timothy McVeigh, U.S. Army Veteran

“Timothy McVeigh, a former U.S. Army soldier, is convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy for his role in the 1995 terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. On April 19, 1995, just after 9 a.m., a massive truck bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The blast collapsed the north face of the nine-story building, instantly killing more than 100 people and trapping dozens more in the rubble. Emergency crews raced to Oklahoma City from across the country, and when the rescue effort finally ended two weeks later, the death toll stood at 168 people, including 19 young children who were in the building’s day-care center at the time of the blast.” Read more from This Day in History here.

Related Links:
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Timothy McVeigh convicted for Oklahoma City bombing (June 2, 1997)
American Experience PBS Premiered ‘Oklahoma City’: Timothy McVeigh & Terry Nichols Conspired to Bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building (February 7, 2017)
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The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
Oklahoma City National Memorial (U.S. National Park Service)

Oklahoma City Bombing: 168 People Died in an Act of Domestic Terrorism at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building (April 19, 1995)

Oklahoma City Bombing FBI

Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Photo: FBI.gov)

“On the morning of April 19, 1995, an ex-Army soldier and security guard named Timothy McVeigh parked a rented Ryder truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. He was about to commit mass murder.

Inside the vehicle was a powerful bomb made out of a deadly cocktail of agricultural fertilizer, diesel fuel, and other chemicals. McVeigh got out, locked the door, and headed towards his getaway car. He ignited one timed fuse, then another.

At precisely 9:02 a.m., the bomb exploded.”

Read more at Oklahoma City Bombing – FBI.

“The events of April 19, 1995, dramatically changed Oklahoma City and all of us who remember that spring morning. But the stories of the 168 people killed live in our hearts as well as in the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Learn more about the victims here.” -Oklahoma City National Memorial

Learn what motivated domestic terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols to commit the Oklahoma City Bombing, which killed 168 people on April 19, 1995. Discover the federal and local clean up efforts and the fate of McVeigh and Nichols. -History 

USA: Oklahoma City Bombing Rescue – 1995 | Today in History | 19 Apr 16 -AP Archive

In the News:

The FBI has released long-secret security tapes showing the chaos immediately after the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. The soundless recordings show people rushing from nearby buildings after the fertilizer bomb went off. (Sept. 27) -Associated Press

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20 years ago tomorrow, domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh and his co-conspirators set off an enormous truck bomb in downtown Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children. Anna Werner reports on that awful day after visiting the site. -CBS This Morning

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Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, a time to remember the 168 lives lost in an act of domestic terrorism that rocked the nation. -CBS News

On the morning of Wednesday, April 19, 1995, a former Army soldier parked a rented Ryder truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.He got out, locked it and ignited two fuses. At 9:02 a.m., the explosion ripped through the building where 500 people worked and children attended America’s Kids day care. The blast killed 168 people including 19 children under the age of 6. -PennLive.com

USA: Oklahoma City: Remains of Bombed Building to be Demolished. -AP Archive

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum:

At the 20th anniversary remembrance for the Oklahoma City bombing, the former president says it’s important for all Americans to remember how much they owe Oklahomans. -CBS News

Video of The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. -CNN

American Experience PBS:

Premiering at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Coming to American Experience PBS on February 7, 2017 at 9/8c. -American Experience, PBS

After the Oklahoma City Bombing, Clinton’s ability to reach Americans on a personal level did much to help the nation’s grief. “It’s kind of a throwaway line now, I feel your pain, but he literally could,” says Robert McNeely. “I mean he could take people and just hug them and connect to them in a way and really listen to them.” -American Experience, PBS

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At the time of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was home to several government agencies — and a daycare. -American Experience, PBS

During the stand-off between federal agents and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas in 1993, people gathered on a hill roughly three miles away to see what was happening at the compound. One of those drawn to Waco was a 24-year-old Army veteran named Timothy McVeigh. -American Experience, PBS

Filmmaker Barak Goodman and editor Don Kleszy discuss their newest documentary, “Oklahoma City” and how it led to the creation of another one-hour film about Ruby Ridge. -American Experience, PBS

The 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing was the largest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. A new documentary on the PBS series American Experience takes a fresh look at the events and motivations that led to the attack by Timothy McVeigh, and finds resonance for today. -PBS NewsHour

At the 20th anniversary, we look back at the Oklahoma City bombing. Public television station OETA shares reflections from survivors and victims’ families, and Judy Woodruff talks to former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, former Director of Homeland Security of Oklahoma Kerry Pettingill and Barry Grissom, U.S. attorney for the district of Kansas, for lessons learned from the attack. -PBS NewsHour

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a former soldier deeply influenced by the literature and ideas of the radical right, parked a Ryder truck with a five-ton fertilizer bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City. Moments later, 168 people were killed and 675 were injured in the blast. OKLAHOMA CITY traces the events — including the deadly encounters between American citizens and law enforcement at Ruby Ridge and Waco — that led McVeigh to commit the worst act of domestic terrorism in American history. With a virulent strain of anti-government anger still with us, the film is both a cautionary tale and an extremely timely warning. -YouTube Movies

Related Links:
Oklahoma City Bombing
Oklahoma City Bombing – FBI
Oklahoma City bombing – HISTORY
Oklahoma City Bombing Fast Facts
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
Oklahoma City National Memorial (U.S. National Park Service)
American Experience PBS Premiered ‘Oklahoma City’: Timothy McVeigh & Terry Nichols Conspired to Bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building (February 7, 2017)
Oxygen Premiered ‘In Defense Of Timothy McVeigh’: Convicted Oklahoma City Bomber Executed by Feds in 2001 for Terrorism (June 25, 2018)

YouTube:
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