Despite recent roadblocks, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ efforts to restrict recreational marijuana use and the Veteran Administration’s refusal to study cannabis’s therapeutic benefit, legislation at the state and federal level is moving forward to allow or expand access to medical marijuana for those who need it.

“Americans should be encouraged by the progress being made,” explains Shaina Smith, director of state advocacy and alliance development for U.S. Pain Foundation. “Fortunately, Attorney General Sessions has only cracked down on recreational marijuana. Although there is some concern he might target medical cannabis, so far, we’re seeing a lot of positive action on medical marijuana bills in numerous states and at the federal level. But we need our advocates and ambassadors to step up and support the legislation being proposed.”[...]

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Pain advocates are encouraged to ask Congress to support Opioids and STOP Pain Initiative Act, which was introduced in December, through an easy online engagement campaign.

HR4733/S2260 proposes to expand, intensify, and coordinate research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with respect to the understanding of pain and the development of safer and more effective pain treatments. It also will help fund the development of improved options for medication-assisted treatment and opioid overdose reversal[...]

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Special scholarships are available to eligible U.S. Pain volunteers to attend a two-day training program for support group leaders on March 2-4 in Phoenix, AZ. Two additional trainings will be held in Chicago and New York later this year.

Run by Pain Connection, a program of U.S. Pain, the trainings are designed to teach professionals/peer leaders to work with individuals with chronic pain in a group setting. The trainers are: Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, clinical director of Pain Connection, and Cindy Steinberg, U.S. Pain’s national director of policy and advocacy. The training provides education on the psychosocial aspects of chronic pain, the ABC’s of starting and running a support group. group work process, program development, and leadership, as well as receiving support for the chronic pain support group leaders.[...]

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City & state: Modesto, CA

Age: 38 years old

Pain warrior role: U.S. Pain Ambassador since 2016

What type of health conditions you live with: Reflex sympathetic dystrophy/complex regional pain syndrome, chronic back pain, migraines, depression, and anxiety

What is your favorite tip for others with chronic pain: “The most important lesson I have learned about pain is to not let my pain define me. You have to get to know your pain: give it a name, learn to understand it, and become familiar with what increases or decreases it. Mourn who you were before the pain so that you can fully embrace the newly transformed version of yourself. Life doesn’t end with the start of pain. Find an amazing support group to lean on and learn to accept help. You may not be able to do all the things you once could, but with help you may find new ways to do old activities or find new activities you never would have imagine before. You are stronger than you realize so define your pain, but don’t let it define you!”[...]

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January was a busy month for some of U.S. Pain’s youngest pain warriors.

Jan. 11 marked the third annual Points for Pain fundraiser hosted by 14-year-old Tyler Cashman, director of pediatric fundraising and awareness, at Voorhees Regional High School in Glen Gardner, NJ.  The event, which consisted of a bake sale, raffles, and a varsity girls basketball game, has raised more than $4,500 and counting. Cashman spoke and shared the pediatric edition of the INvisible Project project to a packed gym. All of the funds raised from this event go towards U.S. Pain’s Pediatric Pain Warrior Program.[...]

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Two major media outlets serving the pain community, PainPathways Magazine and National Pain Report, will now be joining forces with U.S. Pain Foundation.

“We are very excited to begin collaborating with these two amazing publications,” says Paul Gileno, president and founder of U.S. Pain. “We hope we’ll be able to better connect them with our patient community, so that more people can benefit from the information and insight they provide.”[...]

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Rare Disease Day is Feb. 28

Stancliff at the NIH’s 2017 event.

Rare Disease Day takes place on the last day of February every year (Feb. 28 or 29 if a leap year). The objective is to raise awareness and knowledge by calling attention to rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives. Statistics show 1 in 20 people are affected by a rare disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the majority of rare diseases and many go undiagnosed.

To show support, below, U.S. Pain Foundation has provided various ways to become engaged within your community or worldwide. U.S. Pain feels this day of recognition falls in line with the organization’s mission to connect, inform, empower and educate chronic pain and invisible illnesses.[...]

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On Jan. 16, U.S. Pain volunteers and members were treated to a presentation, “How to effectively prevent and resolve insurance coverage issues,” with Demian Fontanella, JD, general counsel for the Connecticut Office of the Healthcare Advocate (OHA). The webinars occur on the third Tuesday of every other month at 1 pm EST.

OHA is an independent state agency that provides advocacy services for Connecticut health care consumers. In 2016, OHA helped over 7,000 consumers with specific issues and saved Connecticut them more than $11 million combined. (For a list of similar agencies by state, click here.)[...]

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Steinberg testifies in December.

Cindy Steinberg, U.S. Pain’s national director of policy and advocacy, testified twice at the Massachusetts State House in recent weeks on important pain policy legislation. On Dec. 19, she testified in support of a bill to ensure pain is properly assessed and managed in all health care settings. On Jan. 16, she expressed concern over some aspects of a bill that may go too far in restricting pain medications.[...]

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This month’s webinar will feature departmental updates and an informational presentation, “How to effectively prevent and resolve insurance coverage issues,” with Demian Fontanella, JD, general counsel for the Connecticut Office of the Healthcare Advocate (OHA). The webinars are open to volunteers and those interested in volunteering.

Fontanella will discuss tips for dealing with insurance coverage denials and how to get the best outcome. He’ll also delve into ways to prevent denials in the first place and avoid surprise bills.[...]

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