The rising costs of prescription medications is one of the most pressing issues in health care today. This spring, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a 44-page plan to tackle the issue, called “American Patients First.”

U.S. Pain Foundation was one of hundreds of patient organizations to weigh in on the plan in advance of a July 16 public comment deadline. U.S. Pain signed on to several group letters, including letters from the “I am essential” coalition, the Alliance for Transparent and Affordable Prescriptions, and the Part B Access for Seniors and Physicians Coalition.“To ensure individuals living with chronic pain are given the chance to receive quality health insurance coverage at an affordable rate, it’s imperative that we take these opportunities to represent the patient voice,” says Shaina Smith, Director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development. “Letters that we have signed on to focus on the significant need to access prescription therapies without passing the buck to those with chronic illness.”

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Two U.S. Pain Foundation staff members–Cindy Steinberg, national director of Policy and Advocacy, and Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, clinical director of Pain Connection–have been nominated to serve on influential committees within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Steinberg was announced May 1 as one of 28 members appointed to the newly established Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. Steinberg is the only representative selected from a patient organization. The task force, created as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, aims to outline best practices and address gaps and inconsistencies in the management of acute and chronic pain.

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The Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force is a new, high-level federal think-tank consisting of 28 appointees, including Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for U.S. Pain Foundation.

Overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the task force has been charged with the following:

Propose updates to pain management best practices

  • Issue recommendations that address gaps or inconsistencies for managing chronic and acute pain
  • Provide the public with an opportunity to comment on any proposed updates and recommendations
  • Develop a strategy for disseminating such proposed updates and recommendations to relevant Federal agencies and general public
  • Provide expert advice and recommendations for pain management and prescribing pain medication

Take Action: Submit Comments from the Patient Perspective

As part of its inaugural meeting on May 30 and 31, the task force is accepting comments in person, via webcast, and online. Written comments can be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal and are due by May 25.

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U.S. Pain volunteers mobilized quickly this month to respond to two problematic proposals at the national level: one from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding opioids and another from the Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) concerning health insurance on state exchanges.

In both instances, volunteers were asked to submit a template letter to the organizations, which were accepting public comment. The campaign to respond to the HHS proposal saw 60 advocates take action, while an astounding 683 individuals stepped up to address the CMS proposal.

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