By Debbie Gregory.
Legislation currently moving through Congress would honor Marine Jason Simcakoski and change how VA medical centers handle patient pain management and prescription pain killer distribution.
The Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act is named for the Wisconsin veteran who died after receiving a toxic cocktail of pain medications through the Tomah, WI VA Medical Center.
The legislation is getting bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
Simcakoski died Aug. 30, 2014, in the hospital’s short-stay mental health unit. He had taken 13 prescribed medications, including several that cause respiratory depression, in a 24-hour period. Not only did the staff fail to properly prescribe the medications, they blundered the medical response when Simcakoski was found unresponsive in his bed.
Representative Ron Kind of La Crosse, WI said that America needs to keep its promise to take care of our veterans. “Two million of our veterans [are] now coming home from deployments in Iraq, & Afghanistan. Most of them are bringing home with them a lot of physical and mental needs. ”
The legislation has the support of veterans groups such as the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act focuses on updating pain management guidelines, strengthening provider education and training, improving patient advocacy, and authorizing a new commission to examine alternative treatments.
Simcakoski served in the Marines from 1998-2002 and suffered a head injury. Anxiety attacks led him to seek care at the Tomah VA, where his family said he struggled for over four years with no improvement, despite the long list of medications.
At the legislative hearing, Jason’s father, Marvin Simcakoski, said, “The Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act is an important piece of history. Helping our veterans get the best care possible is the ultimate goal. The guidelines in the Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act will help the VA give our veterans and service men and women the best health care they deserve. Our family doesn’t want to see what happened to our son Jason happen to another veteran our service person. Our family is proud to support this bill.”