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Patient and provider groups are celebrating the introduction of the “Safe Step Act,” a federal bill aimed at lessening treatment delays and barriers to the access of prescription therapies. Filed by Representatives Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), HR 2279 would reform the potentially harmful insurer practice known as step therapy, which allows insurers to force patients to try and fail on a series of insurer-preferred medications before offering coverage for the originally prescribed option. This is the second time a bill to limit step therapy has been introduced at the national level.

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On Jan. 31, U.S. Pain Foundation’s Advocacy Network will host a free training session for existing advocates and interested volunteers to learn what it means to be a patient advocate.

Attendees will learn about issues impacting Americans with chronic pain and what patient advocacy really means.

Those who register will also learn about:

  • How decisions are made at the state and federal level
  • Building relationships with lawmakers
  • Various ways to advocate
  • Why sharing patient stories matter

To register, click here.

Learn more by watching a video here.

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U.S. Pain’s Director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development Shaina Smith was among the speakers at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s (BIO) Patient and Health Advocacy Summit held Oct. 25 and 26 in Washington, D.C. The annual event brings together patient advocacy organizations, academia, regulators, biotechnology industry, and other stakeholders to discuss timely policy issues and share best practices. This year, attendees were treated to a surprise appearance from U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

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Volunteers who have signed up to join the Advocacy Network joined an invitation-only training webinar to learn about an issue impacting families and individuals across the country: surprise bills.

The presentation was the first of a series of advocacy training webinars scheduled for the upcoming year, according to Director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development, Shaina Smith. “We’re really trying to develop and offer resources that will improve the lives of people with chronic illness through education,” Smith explains. “The more we learn as a community, the greater chance we will have at successfully moving patient-friendly policies forward.”

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Policymakers across both aisles have had mixed viewpoints when it comes to cultivating cannabis, not in the literal sense, but as it relates to bills that would permit individuals to access medical cannabis. Several states, however, are expanding or considering expanding their medical cannabis programs, including Illinois, New York, and New Jersey. In addition, some federal institutions have taken steps to improve access: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Congress.

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U.S. Pain Foundation’s Director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development Shaina Smith has been appointed to serve on a pain management design group put together by Connecticut’s Office of Health Strategy (OHS).

The Primary Care Modernization initiative is intended to enable primary care providers to expand and diversify their care teams and provide more flexible, non-visit-based methods for patient care, support, and engagement. The design process will result in a proposed program model that details new care delivery capabilities for Connecticut’s primary care practices and payment model options that support those capabilities.

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Patients with back pain in Delaware will have access to interdisciplinary pain care, following Gov. John Carney’s signing of Senate Bill 225.

The act develops a pilot program within the state employee health care plan that allows the use of massage therapy, acupuncture, and yoga to treat back pain. It also prohibits health plans from placing annual or lifetime limits on chiropractic and physical therapy visits.

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The late summer has brought the heat to Oregon after residents caught wind of a proposed change to Medicaid that would force patients with chronic pain to taper off opioid medications within one year beginning in 2020. While many states have enacted tougher restrictions on pain medications in response to the opioid crisis, none have gone so far as to completely eliminate the use of opioids by people with chronic pain who show no signs of misuse.

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After a two-year effort put forth by the Illinois Fair Care Coalition, a group of patient and provider groups co-led by U.S. Pain Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation, children and adults living with chronic conditions will no longer face potentially harmful prescription coverage changes during the health plan year. Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 4146 into law at the end of August, a bipartisan measure that will help protect families from an unfair insurance practice known as non-medical switching.

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California has long been a harbinger of medical cannabis access. In 1996, it approved medical cannabis for patients with a physician’s recommendation, and in 2016, it legalized marijuana for all residents. Continuing to lead the way on this therapeutic treatment option, lawmakers are considering Assembly Bill 1996, which would establish a research program on the medical use of cannabis. It would be the first of its kind in the country.

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