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.

We were pleased to see that two requests, which we advocated for in collaboration with a workgroup we lead, were included in the budget report: implementing aspects of the Pain Management Best Practices Report and collecting improved data on pain.

JOIN US IN THANKING KEY SENATORS

Join us in thanking key Senators on the Appropriations Committee for their help in including these important provisions:

1. Implementing aspects of the Pain Management Best Practices report. As you may remember from our Virtual Advocacy Day, we strongly support the Pain Management Best Practices Report. We were glad to see the Appropriations Committee commend the report and encourage the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to widely disseminate the report to public health stakeholders, especially primary care clinicians. The committee also asked the HHS Secretary to update relevant pain management policies and educational tools to reflect the recommended best practices across all relevant operating divisions.

2. Collecting data on pain. Too little is known on an ongoing basis about pain’s incidence, prevalence, treatments utilized, and other important data referred to as epidemiology. We applaud the committee for encouraging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect epidemiological data to clarify the incidence and prevalence of pain syndromes by age, comorbidities, socioeconomic status, race, and sex—as well as collect data on resource utilization and the effectiveness of evidence-based treatments. The committee specifically said it expects to hear updates on these activities in the 2022 Congressional Justification Report.

NEXT STEPS

We were also successful in advocating for similar language in the U.S. House Appropriations FY2021 Budget Report, which was released in July. The House and Senate budget bills will be reconciled in the coming weeks to arrive at a final FY2021 budget.

The fact that these pain management sections were included in both the House and Senate reports bodes well for their likelihood of inclusion in the final report. Even better is the requirement that agencies tasked with this work are specifically directed by the committee to justify what they have accomplished on these priorities to Congress next year.

Please join us in thanking the Senators who helped make it possible.