O'Halleran Spearheads Bipartisan Effort to Prevent Opioid Overprescription to Military Families and Retirees

June 20, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced the Combatting Opioid Misuse Before Addiction for our Troops (COMBAT) Act with Congressman Steve Knight (CA-25) and Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06). 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.

“TRICARE beneficiaries, including retirees, experiencing acute pain can easily fall victim to opioid addiction without realizing it until it is too late. No one should be walking away from their doctor’s appointment with a prescription for more pain medication than necessary, and according to the CDC anything more than a seven day supply is rarely needed,” said Congressman O’Halleran. “This commonsense measure will place a reasonable limit on opioid prescriptions to prevent abuse and addiction.”

“One of the primary causes of the opioid epidemic is the over-prescription and easy proliferation of powerful painkillers and other opioids,” said Congressman Knight. “The COMBAT Act will help curtail this problem by more responsibly controlling the flow of these drugs while still allowing care providers the flexibility to address unique patient needs. I’m proud to co-lead this measure with Representative O’Halleran and would like to thank him for his leadership on this issue.”

“We are never going to fix our opioid epidemic without addressing the demand for opioids," said Congressman Moulton. "Limiting first-time opioid prescriptions to seven days is one step we can easily take to prevent patients from getting addicted in the first place."

The COMBAT Act replicates what many states, including Arizona, 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, undergo cancer care, or suffer from chronic pain and are in a management program.

“No one is immune to the impact of opioid abuse and addiction,” continued O’Halleran. “States and private industry are leading the charge in stopping overprescription, and Congress must follow suit and provide this population with the support they need. Even one servicemember, family member, or retiree suffering from opioid addiction is too many, and we can take action to prevent the number from growing. I thank Congressman Knight and Congressman Moulton for joining me to introduce this legislation.” 

The COMBAT Act follows Rep. O’Halleran’s efforts to include a similar provision in the National Defense Authorization Act.

Reps. O’Halleran, Knight, and Moulton serve on the House Armed Service Committee.