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In late December, a high-ranking federal task force released a draft report with recommendations for improving the management of chronic and acute pain nationwide. The landmark report will be finalized and submitted to Congress at the end of May. The pain community is being asked to give feedback on the report by April 1–less than a month away.

“It is vital that people with pain weigh in,” says Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, who was the only patient and patient advocacy representative on the task force. “This report could change people with pain’s lives for the better. It promotes a multidisciplinary, multimodal approach to pain care and addresses barriers to accessing effective treatment. It says that treatment decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis that considers the unique situation of each patient. It addresses the stigma around chronic pain and lack of public, provider and patient education on pain management. It provides a comprehensive view of the gaps in pain care in the United States today and detailed recommendations on how to ameliorate them.”

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Pain patients need and deserve a seat at the table (even if it means bringing in a cot!). On Feb. 12, they finally got one.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) for including Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for U.S. Pain, during its hearing on ‘Managing Pain During the Opioid Crisis,'” says Interim CEO Nicole Hemmenway. “We are even more grateful to Cindy for bravely sharing her story and perspective.”

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Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for U.S. Pain Foundation, has been selected as one of four expert witnesses to speak at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The hearing, “Managing Pain During the Opioid Crisis,” will take place in Washington, D.C., next Tuesday, February 12, at 10 am EST.

Steinberg will be allotted five minutes to speak and will answer questions from committee members. One of her key messages: While we must ensure that Congress’ large investments to ameliorate harms from opioid use disorder are accomplishing that important goal, we also must correct unintentional harms suffered by Americans living with pain and ensure that policy reform going forward considers pain patients’ needs as well.

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Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, was one of the numerous people with pain to speak at the the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s “Patient-Focused Drug Development Public Meeting on Chronic Pain” on July 9. The event drew an at-capacity audience in the auditorium, on the phones, and through a web portal. Dr. Sharon Hertz, Director of the FDA’s Division of Anesthesia, explained to the crowd that she and her colleagues were there to better understand the impact of chronic pain, patient perspectives on current treatment regimens, and the challenges or barriers patients face in accessing treatment.

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On June 16 and 17, U.S. Pain Foundation hosted an intensive training for nine future chronic pain support group leaders in Chicago, IL.

The training program was developed by Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, clinical director of Pain Connection, a program of U.S. Pain. By training more group leaders, U.S. Pain hopes to expand its network of support groups. Presently, U.S. Pain and Pain Connection offer support groups in eight states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Washington, and California, in addition to three conference call support groups.

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Opportunities for people with pain to have their voices heard by federal officials are rare. That’s why it’s so important for the public to take advantage of two major opportunities to comment on the state of pain care at the highest levels of the U.S. government: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Opportunity #1: HHS Interagency Pain Management Best Practices Task Force
Deadline: June 15
How to take action: Submit comments here

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Two U.S. Pain Foundation staff members–Cindy Steinberg, national director of Policy and Advocacy, and Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, clinical director of Pain Connection–have been nominated to serve on influential committees within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Steinberg was announced May 1 as one of 28 members appointed to the newly established Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. Steinberg is the only representative selected from a patient organization. The task force, created as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, aims to outline best practices and address gaps and inconsistencies in the management of acute and chronic pain.

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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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Rights

Pain patients oftentimes encounter obstacles to care, whether because of a clinician who doesn’t take their pain seriously, difficulty accessing the best treatment options due to high costs, or other reasons. To better protect pain patients’ rights, U.S. Pain Foundation and the Massachusetts Pain Initiative joined together to help spearhead the refiling of a bill, “An Act Requiring Pain Assessment and Management in Healthcare Facilities” (HD409/SD1514), in the state of Massachusetts. The effort was led by U.S. Pain’s National Director of Advocacy and Policy Cindy Steinberg. Bill sponsors are Rep. Jay Kaufman and Sen. Julian Cyr.

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cindy2

National Director of Policy and Advocacy Cindy Steinberg has had a busy month. On Jan. 3, she was featured in a Boston Globe article about the impact of clinicians prescribing fewer opioids. The article featured a study of 3,000 clinicians across the country. More than one-third said the reduction in prescribing has hurt patients with chronic pain. Just over half of all respondents said they had cut back on opioid prescribing within the past two years or so, while more than two-thirds of family medicine and internal medicine doctors had done so.

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