Recently, the U.S. Senate released all 12 spending bills for fiscal year 2021. The Labor, Health, and Human Services budget report includes at least 13 sections related to pain management!

This represents a huge step forward in the national commitment to improving pain care in the U.S.

In particular, the Senate has renewed its commitment to investment in pain by continuing to fund the HEAL Initiative at the National Institute of Health for $500 million, with half the funds going to pain research and half to substance use disorder research.

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U.S. Pain Foundation’s Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, has been leading a small workgroup focused on efforts at the federal level to advance the recommendations in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force Report.

In August, the chairs and ranking members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Health Subcommittee, and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar acknowledging the pandemic public health crisis we face, but reminding the secretary that we cannot lose sight of the other ongoing public health crisis of substance use disorder (SUD) and overdose, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. These legislators asked the secretary for a briefing on the SUD crisis and recommendations on what more the federal government needs to do to address this crisis.

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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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Virtual Advocacy Day update

A sign created by pain warrior Sherrie Johnson.

Last month, the U.S. Pain Foundation rallied a total of 761 pain warriors nationwide to urge Congress to allocate funding for the Pain Management Best Practices Interagency Task Force report, a federal blueprint for improving pain care. Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Advocacy and Policy, served on the task force that developed the report.

Through U.S. Pain’s action campaign, 738 individuals sent 2,452 emails to Congress, and 71 individuals made 167 calls. Meanwhile, the hashtag #aplanforpain was tweeted out roughly 1,000 times across social media platforms. People from across 49 states and D.C. participated (if you live in South Dakota, or know someone who does, please join the campaign!).

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Thank you for fighting for change

Thank you. You created the groundswell we needed to start getting Congress to pay attention to the “Pain Management Best Practices” report.

During our Virtual Advocacy campaign, 595 pain warriors sent 1,944 emails to Congress. 60 pain warriors made 144 calls to Congress. And #aplanforpain was tweeted out at least 500 times, reaching thousands of people, including federal legislators.

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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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U.S. Pain Foundation recently spearheaded a joint letter to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee and the E&C Health and Oversight Subcommittees requesting that they convene a hearing about the pain provisions in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act and the recommendations released in May 2019 by the Department of Health and Human Services Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. The letter was signed by 30 patient and professional groups.

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From left, Wade Delk of the American Society for Pain Management Nursing; Steinberg; and Elliott Warren, of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association.

As 2019 comes to a close, advocates are making a final push for Congress to hold a hearing on the Pain Management Best Practices Report, a series of outstanding recommendations for improving pain care nationally.

“If even half of the recommendations in this report were implemented, it would likely change the lives of millions of Americans who suffer with chronic pain,” says Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, who served on the task force that created the report.

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Cindy Steinbergs speaks about pain at CMS

On Sept. 20, National Director of Policy and Advocacy Cindy Steinberg spoke on a panel at a public meeting about chronic pain and substance use disorder at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) in Washington, D.C.

The goal of the meeting was to discuss CMS’s plans to address the opioid crisis and pain management. That included reviewing current efforts underway by various federal agencies, along with exploring new approaches through presentations from leading experts. (In 2018, Congress directed CMS to review its coverage and payment policies to determine whether they have resulted in incentives or disincentives that have contributed to the opioid crisis.)

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U.S. Pain Foundation recently led a group of 24 pain patient and professional organizations in sending a joint letter to U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, who lead the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, requesting that the committee hold a hearing on the final report of the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Taskforce.

The task force, comprised of 29 pain experts, was mandated by Congress to create recommendations to improve pain care while alleviating the opioid crisis in America. Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, was the only patient and patient group representative on the task force.

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