U.S. Pain Foundation tracked nearly 900 bills relating to patient access and safety issues at the state level this session. Those priority issues, which included medical cannabis, integrative pain care, and access to innovative therapy options, yielded 150 bills that will now become law.
What set this session apart from years past is the number of campaigns offered to advocates and how many volunteers acted on the engagements. “We saw a huge surge in the number of volunteers who participated in both state and federal issues ,” says Shaina Smith, director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development for U.S. Pain. “To increase advocacy opportunities, we have created 11 engagements since the start of January, with more on the horizon. To date, a total of 2,846 letters have been sent by advocates to Congress and state lawmakers. This is an astounding feat and would not have been possible without the dedication and passion from our volunteers; I am truly touched and grateful.”
The types of campaigns volunteers acted on ranged from issues relevant to medical cannabis access to the passage of a landmark pain research funding bill (H.R. 4733), which is still an active online engagement and can be accessed here. Smith says there are other active campaigns, despite only one dozen states still in session, such as the New Jersey out-of-pocket engagement or the Ohio outreach effort to key Senate and House lawmakers.
Other proposed legislation is currently being tracked by Smith, who notes six more states will adjourn throughout June. Despite the adjournment of legislatures throughout the country, advocates are being asked to utilize this time to schedule in-district meetings and research key issues impacting the chronic pain population. “While we wait for patient-friendly bills to continue moving forward, we’re encouraging advocates to utilize this time to get to know their lawmakers. You can always reach out to our team if you would like support in addressing state representatives, assemblymen, or senators.”
Smith also plans on developing several webinars to train advocates on the ins and outs of scheduling meetings with and contacting elected officials.
To stay up-to-date on U.S. Pain’s state advocacy efforts, sign up as an advocate.