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Alabama Legislature passes bill to help suffering, addicted veterans


A bill to help healthcare professionals better identify and help veterans suffering from drug addiction passed both houses of the Alabama Legislature this week.

What the bill seeks to fix:

— Regular patients are subject to having their prescription records reviewed by doctors and pharmacists to ensure drugs aren’t being counter-productive, dangerous, or abused.

— However, that oversight breaks down when a veteran is being treated both within the Veterans Administration system and in the regular outside system.

— Doctors and pharmacists in each system may not have access to the other’s information, according to a news release provided by the bill’s sponsors.

How the fix will be accomplished:

— The bill allows those caring for veterans within Alabama to share information so doctors and pharmacists can more easily identify potential drug abuse issues among their patients who are veterans.

— The measure also strengthens privacy laws governing use of prescription data.

Key quotes from the bill’s sponsors:

Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville):

— “Drug abuse affecting our military men and women is something we don’t talk about but that we know exists given what many of them have been through, and it’s time we in Alabama did something about it.” 

“Drug abuse amongst veterans can be a ‘silent struggle’ really, one that tears apart lives and families. They are crying out for help; we just can’t hear them.” 

State Rep. April Weaver (R-Alabaster):

“For a non-VA patient, doctors and pharmacists can review those prescription records, but with a veteran, neither the doctors and pharmacists at the VA nor the doctors and pharmacists outside the VA that are also treating the patient know what prescriptions the veteran is receiving. This bill will allow them to share that information so we can get our veterans the help they need and deserve.”

The bill now goes to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature.