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Happiness is defined as a mental and emotional state of well-being. This mental and emotional state may often be affected by the physical pain experienced by chronic pain warriors, which is why the U.S. Pain Foundation is challenging chronic pain warriors, caregivers, family, and friends to participate in June’s “What Makes You Happy?” social media photo challenge.

Each day, you will be challenged to find a particular piece of happiness in your life and post a related photo about it. Living with chronic pain is difficult and weighs on you both mentally and physically; however, the Happiness Challenge allows everyone to take a deeper look at their lives and see all of the wonderful, fulfilling gifts everyone has in their lives. One can always find happiness! Participants will also be eligible for special giveaways.

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Now more than ever, chronic pain deserves awareness. U.S. Pain staff are excited to see how pain ambassadors, advocates and volunteers will apply themselves to help make Pain Awareness Month (PAM) a success this September. The goal of PAM is to raise awareness and provide educational resources for individuals living with chronic pain.

“Our volunteers are the reason we are able to make an impact  on the pain community,” says Lori Monarca, co-director of Ambassador Program, who coordinates the ambassador program along with Jaclyn Drexel, also co-director of Ambassador Program.  “Your hard work and dedication  will provide the necessary fuel to launch this cause into the spotlight.”

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The U.S. Pain Foundation is pleased to announce its new campaign and related website, “Don’t Switch Me,” to fight back against insurers forcing medically stable patients off the prescription treatments that manage their chronic conditions.

Right now, in most states, insurers can force patients off of medications they’ve been stable on– even for years – at almost any time. The practice of forcing patients onto insurer-preferred drugs, instead of what clinicians prescribe, is commonly known as “nonmedical switching.” It is considered “nonmedical” switching because the switch is the result of financial reasons, not medical ones.

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As the flagship program of the foundation, the INvisible Project  unveils the truth about what it means to live with pain and thrive despite it. In an effort to support disease-specific communities, the latest edition of the project focuses on migraine disease — coming out just in time for Migraine and Headache Awareness Month in June! (For information about getting involved with Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, check out this article from last month’s eNews.)

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Rotondi and her son participating in Beautify in Blue event.

Location: Jackson, New Jersey

Age: 40 years old

Pain Warrior Role: Ambassador since 2013

Conditions: I live with Chronic Migraine, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which has caused many co-morbidities including arthritis, TMJ, colonic dysmotility, POTS, spinal stenosis, joint instability, myofascial pain, multiple tendon tears etc.

Fun Fact: My nickname is Corky.

Tip for Pain Warriors: “Find anything thing that will make you smile. This is painful and difficult journey, find anything thing that will give you some joy, in spite of the pain.”

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Telemedicine is an exciting new frontier in health care that can provide more accessible, streamlined treatment by connecting patients and clinicians virtually. U.S. Pain Foundation is pleased to announce telemedicine as one of its new state advocacy priorities.

“We believe that telemedicine has the potential to improve the lives of chronic pain patients,” says Shaina Smith, U.S. Pain director of state advocacy and alliance development. “Many patients with severe pain are limited in their abilities to get to and from doctors’ appointments. Offered in conjunction with traditional, in-office care, telemedicine can help ensure these patients don’t slip through the cracks and are able to get the care they need.”

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Stakeholders in the pain community eagerly tuned in to “Implementation of the National Pain Strategy (NPS) Listening Session” on May 11. The daylong event was hosted by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide an update on the NPS, the nation’s first strategic plan for advancing pain management, research and prevention across the country. While the NPS itself has been finalized and is supported by many groups, including U.S. Pain Foundation, the next crucial step is obtaining funding from Congress to implement it.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed concerning changes to key pain management questions on an influential survey, called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Survey, which is used to rate patient satisfaction with their inpatient hospital stay. The survey is important because results are publicly reported on Medicare’s Hospital Compare website and a hospital’s score can affect its CMS payments. CMS has invited the public to comment on the proposal by June 13, and U.S. Pain is asking its members to speak out against the changes.

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 U.S. Pain program, Points for Pain, honored by New York Yankees

MIDDLETOWN, CONN. (May 26, 2017)—Most teenage boys want to spend their free time watching TV and playing video games. But not 14-year-old Tyler Cashman. Since 2015, Tyler has worked tirelessly to raise $35,000 for children living with painful, chronic conditions through a unique fundraising and awareness program, Points for Pain. Tyler started the program in collaboration with the U.S. Pain Foundation, the leading nonprofit for both adults and children with chronic pain.

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Gov. Branstad (center) surrounded by patient organizations and advocates during Wednesday’s bill signing ceremony.

Gov. Branstad Signs HF 233 to Allow a More Transparent Overriding Process

Middletown, CT, May 11, 2017 –  Through the efforts of advocates and patient organizations who formed the Iowa Fail First Coalition, of which U.S. Pain Foundation is a member, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has signed into law a bill which allows clinicians and patients a clear process to override the fail first protocol, also known as step therapy.

Currently, insurers in Iowa can force a patient to “fail first” on a series of less expensive and potentially inferior medications before receiving the therapy option originally prescribed by their clinician. By turning HF 233 into law, a health insurance carrier must now provide the prescribing health care professional and covered individual access to a clear, accessible and convenient process to request a step therapy override exception.

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