Finding positivity in pain

Heather Gilmore

When you live with chronic pain, it can be difficult to stay positive. But positivity is essential to both physical and mental health. In the month of December, U.S. Pain Foundation ambassadors Heather Gilmore and Garin Harris led the Positivity Photo Challenge to help pain warriors cultivate optimism and reframe negative thoughts. Gilmore holds a doctorate in education and wrote her dissertation on online support for patients with her condition, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy; Harris, who is currently Miss Teen International, champions chronic pain in honor of her mother, who lives with pain.

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Governor Cuomo signs S.3419C into Law

Middletown, CT, January 1, 2017– After years of advocating for a transparent and standardized process to appeal step therapy, an insurer protocol which forces patients to fail on a series of medications before receiving the originally prescribed treatment, New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law which overrides the unfair insurer practice.

This past year, over 80 patient and provider groups, including U.S. Pain Foundation, banded together to collaborate on initiatives which raised awareness surrounding both step therapy and the proposed legislation by Assemblyman Matthew Titone and Senator Catharine Young. The Assembly and Senate unanimously passed S.3419C, a bipartisan bill designed to create a clear override process for doctors who feel that “failing first” on alternative therapy options could pose negative impacts to their patients.

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In 2017, U.S. Pain is asking its community to get involved with fundraising efforts whenever possible—whether simply asking a family member for a donation or hosting a Points for Pain game.

“U.S. Pain operates dozens of programs that are free to its members and advocates for chronic pain patients across the country,” says Nicole Hemenway, vice president of U.S. Pain. “But we can only do those things through donations, sponsorships, and grants, and we need our members help in making them happen.”

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Patient advocates, clinicians, administrators, policymakers, and other experts in pain and addiction medicine came together Dec. 6 for the “Summit on Balanced Pain Management” in Washington, D.C., to discuss providing effective, safe pain care while addressing the opioid crisis. Hosted by the Alliance for Balanced Pain Management (AfBPM), the day featured panels and lectures on topics ranging from implementing the National Pain Strategy to how clinicians can provide balanced care in their practice.

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On Dec. 2, the State of New York announced it would include chronic pain as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. The U.S. Pain Foundation actively supports legalizing medicinal marijuana for chronic pain in all states.

“Living with Ehlers-Danlos, I am always grateful to see states allowing pain patients, like me, to have the same rights as those with more commonly known conditions,” said Ellen Lenox Smith, U.S. Pain’s co-director for Medicinal Marijuana Advocacy. “Our goal is to see all states embracing the legal use of medical marijuana across the country.”

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U.S. Pain celebrated a cautious victory this month after the defeat of a controversial Medicare Part B proposal that would have incentivized the use of lower-cost drugs. U.S. Pain created and led a campaign, “Patients for Medicare Access,” to fight the change.

“Congressional leaders requested that the Obama administration withdraw the final rule implementing the proposal,” says Paul Gileno, president and founder of U.S. Pain, who published a Dec. 21 op-ed in The Hill about the campaign’s success. “While the rule could still be revived, we are cautiously optimistic that the effort has been successfully blocked.”

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A federal bill two years in the making, the 21st Century Cures Act, was signed into law Dec. 13 by President Obama. U.S. Pain Foundation stood with more than 15 other organizations—including the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Global Genes, and the Genetic Alliance—to support the act. The $6 billion law will expand funding for medical research, invest in mental health resources and combat the opioid drug epidemic.

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