Rep. Takano Statement on VA Inspector General Report Linking VA Choice Program to Increased Risk of Opioid Addiction

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), vice ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement after a Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General report found that veterans receiving non-VA care through the VA Choice program faced greater risk of opioid addiction.

“The Inspector General’s report identifying increased risk of opioid addiction for veterans receiving non-VA care through the Choice program requires immediate action from the VA and its community partners. I am encouraged that VA has already submitted an action plan to address the report’s findings and I appreciate the urgency with which they are responding to the issues it raised. 

“This report is indicative of the greater challenges facing the VA Choice program. While well intentioned, Choice has revealed some of the unintended consequences of increasing the private sector’s role in veterans’ care without appropriate oversight. Electronic health records and the VA’s expertise in managing chronic pain do not always follow a veteran to a private provider. As this report highlights, the gaps in communication and veteran-specific expertise can put veterans at risk when seeking non-VA care.

“This is further evidence that – when the program’s funding expires next year – Congress must replace Choice with a more efficient, effective, and clinically based method for connecting veterans with care in the community.”

Press Contact

Josh Weisz, 202-225-2305