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U.S. Pain’s National Director of Policy and Advocacy, Cindy Steinberg, is constantly fighting behind-the-scenes for improvements in pain care. One recent example: last week she and the Academy of Integrative Pain Management issued two joint letters–one to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and another to the House Ways and Means Committee–recommending changes in CMS coverage and funding for innovative treatment approaches.

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Despite opposition from groups like the U.S. Pain Foundation, beginning in January 2018, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will change the pain management questions on patient hospital satisfaction surveys from how well staff did controlling patients’ pain to how often they “talked” to patients about their pain. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, known as the HCAHPS survey, is a high-profile, publicly reported measure that allows consumers to compare the quality of care between different hospitals. Survey results are also used to determine a portion of hospital reimbursement rates.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed concerning changes to key pain management questions on an influential survey, called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Survey, which is used to rate patient satisfaction with their inpatient hospital stay. The survey is important because results are publicly reported on Medicare’s Hospital Compare website and a hospital’s score can affect its CMS payments. CMS has invited the public to comment on the proposal by June 13, and U.S. Pain is asking its members to speak out against the changes.

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U.S. Pain volunteers mobilized quickly this month to respond to two problematic proposals at the national level: one from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding opioids and another from the Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) concerning health insurance on state exchanges.

In both instances, volunteers were asked to submit a template letter to the organizations, which were accepting public comment. The campaign to respond to the HHS proposal saw 60 advocates take action, while an astounding 683 individuals stepped up to address the CMS proposal.

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CMS

Many patients with chronic pain are concerned about the unintended consequences of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) newly published proposal to curb opioid misuse and abuse, “Opioid Misuse Strategy 2016.” U.S. Pain urges the pain community to email CMS by Friday, March 3, to ask them to reconsider several proposed changes that could harm people living with chronic pain.

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CMS

On Jan. 5, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) published a new, 30-page proposal for curbing opioid abuse: “Opioid Misuse Strategy 2016.” Among the more controversial suggestions are incentivizing pharmacists to report clinicians who appear to be overprescribing opioids and encouraging patients and providers to report on pharmacists who may be dispensing inappropriately.

CMS did not say when it planned to implement the strategy or if public hearings would be held.

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