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.
Mitigating unfair insurance practices
Several states are looking at ways to reduce roadblocks to accessing medications. These cost-saving tactics are known as step therapy or fail first (when a patient is required to “fail” on a cheaper alternative medication before an insurer will cover what their clinician prescribed) and nonmedical switching (when insurers make changes to medication coverage midyear).
Provider education on pain
We’re pleased to see an uptick in bills having to do with provider education. Presently, most clinicians receive minimal training on pain management. Several states are looking to correct this, recognizing that a better understanding of how to treat chronic pain could also help alleviate the opioid crisis.
Opioid dispensing and prescribing
A number of states are continuing to enact policy change surrounding opioid dispensing and prescribing. Many are exploring additional limits on how and when opioids are prescribed (such as requiring a first-time opioid prescription be limited to a seven-day supply), and/or more specific standards when prescribing (such as requiring a detailed patient-provider contract).
We support efforts that try to reasonably curb abuse without unfairly penalizing people with legitimate pain. In light of reports from many people with pain that they have been denied appropriate pain care or forced off medications (despite no signs of abuse), some states are pushing back against sweeping restrictions.
Medical cannabis continues to be a hot button issue. We’ve seen a number of states looking to expand their current programs or establish a medical program for the first time, including: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
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