Advocacy round-up

What better way to honor Pain Awareness Month than taking action at the federal level? Here are a few opportunities to engage this month, along with some advocacy updates.

Ways to engage

  • The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is accepting public comments on whether oxygen should be covered for patients with cluster headache, a rare and debilitating neurological disease. The deadline to comment is Sept. 16. Get tips and help with commenting from the Alliance for Headache Advocacy here.
  • The Alliance for Aging Research is looking for older adults with chronic pain and/or their caregivers to join their #TalkNerdytoMe training series! You’ll receive a $400 stipend and learn how to help advance patient-centered research. Learn more.
  • The Department of Defense is recruiting individuals with chronic pain to participate on panels as “consumer reviewers” of biomedical research.  Interested individuals must be nominated and sponsored by a chronic pain-related advocacy organization and must be able to represent all types of chronic pain, not just the specific condition they live with. Reviewers will receive an honorarium for participating. For more information, contact Melanie Monts de Oca at Melanie.Montsdeoca@gdit.com.
  • The House of Representatives is set to vote this month on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. Currently, cannabis is categorized as a schedule I drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, no medical value and is illegal at the federal level. The MORE Act would deschedule cannabis and decriminalize its use at the federal level, which, from the patient perspective, would be an important step forward in improving access to medical cannabis and enabling more clinical research. Currently, 32 states as well as the District of Columbia offer medical cannabis programs. Help us urge legislators to pass the MORE Act here.
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    On July 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) to address the topic of pain management. The CDC is preparing to update its 2016 Opioid Prescribing Guideline for Chronic Pain.

    “The most critical part of the meeting was the CDC’s announcement of the process they will be using to update the Guideline,” says Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for U.S. Pain, who attended the meeting by phone. “The CDC also shared the names and affiliations of 24 individuals selected for a  working group, which will review the new Guideline prepared by CDC and issue a report for the BSC/NCIPC to review and consider. We are pleased to see that Kate Nicholson, JD, a patient and patient advocate, was included.”

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    Your advocacy has made an impact.

    Congress has directed the Department of Health and Human Services to disseminate the Pain Management Best Practices Report to providers and create a public awareness campaign about pain via the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Committee Report accompanying the FY 2021 Budget Bill!

    The report includes language we requested in our official appropriations submissions. (The language, with key sections underlined, is below.) Also included is our request to collect and report data on the prevalence of pain and various pain syndromes annually.

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    Approximately 5,400 individuals and organizations responded to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s call for public comment on acute and chronic pain management and whether the CDC should update and expand its 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, submitted a five-page comment on behalf of the U.S. Pain Foundation, which you can read here.

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    While most in-person conferences and meetings have been canceled or postponed as a result of the pandemic, U.S. Pain Foundation staff were able to participate in three important virtual events recently.

    IPRCC meeting

    On June 16, Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, Clinical Director of Pain Connection, joined a videoconference meeting of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC), the highest-ranking permanent pain policy committee in the United States. The IPRCC heard from representatives across various federal agencies and programs.

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    We’re dedicating today, June 11, to flooding policymakers with our request that they allocate funding for key recommendations in the “Pain Management Best Practices” report–a roadmap for improving pain care nationwide.

    At U.S. Pain Foundation, we believe this report has the power to revolutionize pain care in the United States. But nothing will change for pain warriors unless Congress hears from YOU. Taking action is fast, fun, and incredibly important to improving the lives of the 50 million Americans with chronic pain.

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    On April 17, the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) opened an official docket requesting comments from patients living with acute and chronic pain about their perspective on the benefits and harms of opioid use as well as their experiences with nonopioid medications and nonpharmacological treatments for pain. The CDC is also interested in the perspective of caregivers, family members, and health care providers of patients living with pain.

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    Congress has been hard at work on emergency supplemental appropriations bills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic hardships confronting the nation. At the same time, they are continuing to work through the regular appropriations process–examining the President’s budget, holding hearings with agency heads, examining budget and appropriations report requests and writing  and passing appropriations bills for fiscal year 2021.

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    Colorado is considering a bill, HB 20-1085, that would help increase affordable access to some types of pain care.

    How it helps people with pain

    For starters, the bill would require health plans to provide coverage for at least six physical therapy visits and six occupational therapy visits per year, or 12 acupuncture visits, with a maximum of one copayment per year for 12 covered visits. (The acupuncture coverage is dependent on a financial feasibility study.)

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    State legislative sessions across the country are now in full swing! Here are some major trends we’re seeing related to state pain policy, along with opportunities to take action. You can find all of our opportunities to act here. More will be added soon!

    Affordable access to multidisciplinary care

    An increasing number of states are looking for ways to expand affordable access to multidisciplinary pain management options, like massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and chiropractic care.

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