WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The family of a 35-year-old veteran who died after a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital over-prescribed him drugs returned to Capitol Hill Friday.
Marvin Simcakoski is asking Congress for funding to strengthen Jason’s Law — a 2016 measure designed to lower the number of drugs prescribed to veterans.
“We don’t want to see what happened to our son, Jason, happen to any other veterans,” Simcakoski said.
Five years ago, Simcakoski’s son unexpectedly died in a Wisconsin VA Hospital. Staff there had prescribed the 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran a mix of 14 drugs.
In 2016 with the family’s support, Congress passed Jason’s Law, requiring the VA to closely monitor and reduce the number of opiates prescribed to veterans.
And it appears to be paying off. According to the VA, the number of opiates prescribed to veterans has been slashed in half in some parts of the country.
“We’ve turned this tragedy into something our son’s going to be remembered as a hero for,” said Simcakoski.
The veteran’s father returned to Washington with Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin Friday to ensure those trends continue. He’s calling on Congress to renew the annual funding for the law and add $3 million to support the VA’s Patient Advocate Office and ensure doctors outside the VA follow the rules.
Baldwin says challenges remain, but she’s working with Republicans to get the votes for the additional funding this year.