For the 2018 legislative sesion, Director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development Shaina Smith says that U.S. Pain will be offering more ways to engage than ever before.

The State Advocacy team also has revamped its online tools for taking action. The latest calls-to-action will appear on the Advocacy webpage as well as on U.S. Pain’s social media pages. In addition, there are tools for tracking bills and looking up representatives’ contact information.

To immediately be notified of calls-to-action and other opportunities by email, sign up to become an advocate.

“You may not realize it, but your voice and your story are incredibly powerful in persuading legislators to support legislation that benefit people with pain,” says Smith. “By taking part in our campaigns to email, call, or meet with your representatives, you’re opening up their eyes to understanding the struggles people with pain and other chronic conditions face. They can help patients, but only if they hear from them.”

Smith says the scope of patient-related state advocacy issues you may be asked to help with can be unpredictable in many ways, and that the department has seen both unfortunate and promising legislation so far this session.

Ways to get involved:

“We’ve once again seen well-intended bills that aim to button up patient safety concerns which, regrettably, also impact patient populations in a negative way,” Smith says. “We’ve also been pleasantly surprised early on this year, with bills such as Kentucky’s House Bill 166, which would create a medical cannabis program for patients, or Washington’s House Bill 2296, where legislators are trying to protect consumers from excess charges for prescription medications.”

Smith adds there are many states introducing medical cannabis programs for the first time and numerous others looking to expand their existing programs. Complementary therapy and alternative medicine will also take the spotlight this session, with states such as Missouri looking to provide reimbursement for chiropractors who provide services to pain patients (SB 597). U.S. Pain has heard rumblings on the west coast that several bills relating to medication and/or pharmacy benefit managers and transparency will be popping up this year; a handful of states have introduced bills relating to biologics and interchangeability. In addition, bills related to telemedicine will likely continue to crop up across the country.

U.S. Pain is also engaged in numerous coalitions focused on ending midyear formulary changes (non-medical switching), step therapy practices, and helping to lower out-of-pocket costs for medications. Smith says hat these topics are just the tip of the iceberg, with so many important issues impacting Americans with chronic conditions.

A full list of U.S. Pain’s advocacy priority issues, along with explanations of the organization’s position on each issue, can be found here. To track any pain-related bills in your state, visit the Bill Tracking webpage.