Baldwin Offers Bill to Prevent Overmedication at VA

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WFRV) The death of a Wisconsin Marine from an accidental overdose has prompted Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) to take action. Offering a bill designed to provide safer pain management for veterans dealing with the realities of war.

Last August former Marine Jason Simcakoski was being treated at the VA facility in Tomah for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Already taking 14 prescribed medications – he was given one more – later dying in his sleep from an accidental overdose.

“I know my son would be very proud,” said Marvin Simcakoski. “I’m sure he’s smiling down on us right now and thanking us because he was a proud Marine.”

Wednesday, Senator Tammy Baldwin with the blessing of Simcakoski’s wife and father,  introduced a bill in Washington, D.C., to stop overmedication at VA facilities. Called the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act – aimed at preventing similar tragedies.

“We’ve recognized in crafting this legislation that the over reliance of opioids has resulted in too many of our veterans getting hooked on drugs rather than getting the help they deserve,” said Baldwin.

The bill would toughen prescribing guidelines, improve training for caregivers and strengthen tracking of prescriptions. Jason’s relatives say he was simply given too many medications. They don’t want other families to live with the pain of losing a loved one.

“We’re going to keep pushing for them and future vets – so they don’t have to be faced with the same challenges that we are,” said Heather Simcakoski, Jason’s wife.

“This is very important saving lives – that’s what this is all about. Those people served our country and now it’s time to help them,” said Marvin.

Baldwin says VA officials have acknowledged improvements could be made and they are already working on changes. Se says the bill is another step to keep veterans safe.

“They need to know the VA will provide safe and effective care,” said Sen. Baldwin.

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