A Rhode Island bill is halfway home to becoming a model for legislation for chronic pain—particularly for chronic pain patients who depend on opioid medication to help them cope.
Rep. Gregg Amore’s bill, that would exclude chronic intractable pain from the definition of “acute pain management” for the purposes of prescribing opioid medication, was passed by the House of Representatives.
Amore, whose wife has been battling breast cancer, is a neighbor of Claudia Merandi who has been the architect of the national Don’t Punish Pain Rallies that have been drawing attention for over a year, is convinced that the nation’s opioid policy is missing the point.
“We want to make sure that our public policy regarding addressing the opioid crisis does not have the unintended consequence of hurting patients who are trying to manage chronic pain. These patients are not addicts, they are suffering with pain associated with cancer, palliative care, and in many cases, chronic intractable pain. We need to let physicians determine how best to manage their patients’ pain,” said Representative Amore.
In an interview with the National Pain Report, Merandi said that she has already lined up a State Senator who can support the bill when the Legislature reconvenes next year—his name is Frank Lombardi.
The bill has attracted significant support from the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the state’s Nursing Association and, importantly, the Rhode Island Medical Society.
“Advocacy is something I do every day,” said Merandi. “Our efforts are paying off in Rhode Island because I’m persistent.”
Merandi pointed out that she was able to convince Amore about the importance of the legislation by convincing him to listen to what chronic pain patients were saying on social media.
Merandi added that her first efforts were around getting a resolution passed by the Legislature….”a resolution has no teeth,” she said.
Her advice to those who want to advocate—or importantly who don’t advocate—is direct.
“Get in the game,” she said. “Find someone in elected office or public policy you can email, talk to and convince that the chronic pain issue is important not only to you but to thousands of people like you.”