Senator Baldwin introduces bill that would reduce VA narcotic prescriptions, deaths

TOMAH -- Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has introduced a bill that would reduce the prescription of narcotics in Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Baldwin said Tuesday that the measure could prevent possible deaths from narcotic over-prescribing practices like those reported at a VA Medical Center in Tomah.

Baldwin named the bill after 39-year-old Marine Jason Simcakoski who died of mixed-drug toxicity in the hospital's in-patient intensive care unit in August. Multiple probes into the facility are ongoing.

The bill would also broaden the use of complementary pain-relief services like yoga and massage. It would further require increased training and education for doctors who prescribe narcotics.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson says he hasn't seen the bill, but has worked with Wisconsin legislators to push for change in the VA system.