Blue Dogs Endorse Bipartisan Bill to Combat Opioid Overprescription to Military Servicemembers and Veterans

Jul 10, 2018
Press Release

The Democratic Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed H.R. 6165, the Combating Opioid Misuse Before Addiction for our Troops (COMBAT) Act. This bipartisan bill prevents the overprescription of opioids to active duty servicemembers, their families, and retirees who use TRICARE by requiring the Department of Defense to implement a seven day first-fill limit for opioid prescriptions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is rare for a patient’s treatment to require more than seven days of supplied opioids. The bill was introduced by Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), chairman of the Blue Dog Special Task Force on Rural America, as well as Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA).

The COMBAT Act replicates what many states have already implemented to limit initial prescriptions. The bill maintains provider discretion to override the seven day limit if they deem it medically necessary. It also includes exemptions for servicemembers who have experienced traumatic injury, are in substance abuse disorder treatment, receive hospice and palliative care, are undergoing cancer care, or suffer from chronic pain and are in a pain management program.

“TRICARE beneficiaries, including retirees, experiencing acute pain can easily fall victim to opioid addiction without realizing it until it is too late,” said Rep. O’Halleran, Chairman of the Blue Dog Special Task Force on Rural America. “No one should be walking away from their doctor’s appointment with a prescription for more pain medication than necessary. This commonsense measure will place a reasonable limit on opioid prescriptions to prevent abuse and addiction. No one is immune to the impact of opioid abuse and addiction. States and private industry are leading the charge in stopping overprescription, and Congress must follow suit. One servicemember, family member, or retiree suffering from opioid addiction is one too many, and we can take action to prevent the number from growing.”

“Overprescription of opioids has been one of the main causes of the opioid epidemic,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. “Our nation’s military servicemembers and veterans deserve the best possible care, and they deserve the peace of mind that they will not fall victim to addiction from the overprescription of opioids. That’s why the Blue Dogs backed this commonsense, bipartisan legislation: because it attacks the issue at its core, and it’s an important step in the larger fight against the opioid epidemic.”