HHS Pain Task Force Looking for Public Comment

HHS Pain Task Force Looking for Public Comment

By Ed Coghlan

The recommendations of The Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force are creating quite a bit of conversation among pain physicians and advocates.

The recommendations, which are still in draft form, are open to public comments and the U.S. Health and Human Service is anxious for people to read the recommendations and then to comment.

Here is the draft report. (click here).

The charter for the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Working Group was approved by the Secretary of Health and Human Services on October 24, 2017.

The Task Force was established to propose updates to best practices and issue recommendations that address gaps or inconsistencies for managing chronic and acute pain.

You have until April 1st to submit a comment….do so here.

This draft report offers a wide range of treatment modalities with a framework to allow for multidisciplinary, individualized patient-centered care.”

The report suggests a significantly more holistic approach to pain management, embracing the idea that treatment pathways should be individualized and based on a “biopsychosocial model of care.”

Today, according to the task force, chronic pain affects an estimated 50 million U.S. adults, and as many as 19.6 million of those adults experience high-impact chronic pain that interferes with daily life or work activities.

Another item that was highlighted in the report that is of interest to the National Pain Report audience is it acknowledgement of the growing rate of suicide among chronic pain sufferers.

Public comments submitted to the Task Force show growing consideration of suicide resulting from unrelieved pain and in some cases lack of access to treatment. According to a recent CDC report using data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, the percentage of people who died by suicide who also had evidence of chronic pain increased from 7.4% in 2003 to 10.2% in 2014.18 Numbers from this data set beyond 2014 are not yet available. This finding leads to the rising concern that a recent trend of health care professionals opting out of treating pain has contributed to an existing shortage of pain management specialists1 and is leaving some patients without adequate access to care.

Not all pain advocates believe that the HHS approach is perfect. This weekend, we published a comment from a spokesperson for the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain who felt the HHS report didn’t go far enough.

Publish your comments and let us know what you think.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Are there any legal professionals out there who can help pain patients legally address what has, and is still happening to us? There is no question that our rights have been violated. It is also clear that the most vulnerable patients have been dismissed without regard for their well-being, torture, suicide, and more. The CDC has admitted the guidelines for opioid control has been misinterpeted, and misapplied. The fight against the opioid epidemic was meant to target illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Somehow, they report, things got out of hand, and innocent pain patients were targeted instead. How could this happen? Well, fighting the opioid epidemic on the street is no easy task. This was clear from the beginning. Since politics are the major factors in most of these ‘guidelines’, and getting those votes from the public are what politicians need, they needed to show they were getting the epidemic under control. Pain medication and illegal opioids should not be classified under the same definition. The public rarely gets the facts properly explained in public media, so as would be expected, the lines were crossed, and there continues.to be a. false representation of the CDC guidelines. Yes, the CDC did attempt to clarify the issues, falsely. reporting the success of the ‘war on opioids’. Only a small % of the public understand what has happened to the pain community because the media rarely clarifies the difference between a political war that was supposed to target illegal opioids, but instead targeted patients and doctors who clearly were not the intended targets. Most people do not know the truth unless they, or a loved one(s) have been targeted, but were never the intended targets to begin with. The numbers look good for the politics, and for what the public hears, never realizing pain medication, and the illegal sector of this ‘war’, are two different things. Are there any legal reps willing to help?

Heather v

I can’t even find the comment area on this link??

Can someone send me the link without having to try to find the “actual area to comment”

I see they are making this harder 4 ppl to comment, it pushes u to only email them, having everyone on comment section actually shows how many thousands of ppl are saying no to this stuff, along then top put a exclusion 4 ppl who have been on for years or function better and higher quality of life then off of them. At least, intractable pain suffers at the minimum.

Either way, anyone actually find where we can comment directly on thier site?

The link provided above only tells me what the bill is, not a comment area, or button.

I click the other link it says to comment on, yet it does not bring me to the correct page, when I try ti search for it, I can’t find it.

Thanks 4 any help!


Hi Margie, your comment “people can’t afford to pay cash” when seeing a pain management doctor. I don’t know about where you live but in Texas most pain clinics will not accept cash! So I guess if you don’t have private insurance this is supposed to make you sign up for government healthcare (Obamacare) in order to be treated!
When I overheard a clinic worker in Houston say “they don’t accept cash” I decided to privately ask her “why not”? She whispered to me “it keeps the riff raff out of our clinic!” I was a little stunned! But I realized they want people who can pay for the MULTIPLE treatments, other than opioids, required!!
How about using common sense! Let people who’ve done all the bells and whistles of various treatments and have been on opioids for years (let’s say 5 years + ) with absolutely no problems, and followed all of the many requirements without doing anything wrong, continue their treatment with opioids without having to start all over again with expensive tests, counseling, psychologists, biofeedback, steroid injections, facet injections,
acupuncture etc…
Those who’ve been on opioids for years have already done 99% of these procedures that ultimately failed! So why should these have to be repeated over and over when we already know they don’t work long term and they’re expensive!!
In reading the tea leaves I can already tell this is where we’re going…doing these treatments over again so we can say we did multi-disciplinary care, doing EVERYTHING POSSIBLE before beginning opioids!
It makes sense for new patients or those in pain management less than 5 years to go through the “try all procedures” but people who’ve already done these things over and over should have the choice to get back on an appropriate, comfortable regimen of their previous opioid medications they had!
And FYI when changing drs you shouldn’t have to start over again when your records indicate you’ve already done them! Just proceed with your opioid treatment!

Deborah Jacobus

As Ed has requested, I answered the HHS questions online and emailed the pain task force. If we as Chronic pain sufferers don’t participate the madness will continue. Please please take the time to participate. Thank you Ed for bringing to my attention

Judith Jermark

The Federal Government is now in charge of our prescriptions, along with the pharmacies, and insurance companies. No longer can legitimate physicians and legitimate chronic pain patients come to agreement on a treatment plan and allow the patient to pursue it, even while the patient adheres to the plan. Legitimate physicians are being harrassed, threatened and legitimate healthcare corporations are having to go along with the CDC guidelines for opiates and benzodiazepines which were only guidelines, not gospel. The government doesn’t go after the poor drug addicts or drug pushers of heroin, cocaine, fentanyl
They go after legitimate physicians and chronic pain patients. Shame shame on the federal government. All this will make people take notice after thousands of legitimate patients on opioids to function die by suicide. I doubt the government will care.

Barbara Shaffer

I am not well versed on biopyschosocial models. Additionally, I do not have a medical degree. I am, however, an expert on chronic pain and how it has personally impacted my life and those whom I love.
Nine years ago, I was an active, single, professional mother caring for my daughter while holding down a successful career.
For the past eight years, I suffer immense pain from a disease known as RSD/CRPS that has altered my life dramatically.
On eight occasions, I have had surgeries relating to my condition, in addition to nerve blocks, epidurals, physical therapy, SCS x2, numerous medications in addition to opioid therapy. Only SCS and opioid therapy worked well enough for me to sustain some form of a normal life.
And suddenly, 18 months ago, one of those therapies was taken away from me. My pain mgmt doctor retired due to his growing apprehension the government would interfere with his ability to treat his patients.
I never misused my medication, my dosages were stable and I was able to lead somewhat of a life. 18 months later, I struggle working a part time job due to my pain and I have gained 40 pounds due to limited mobility on high pain flare days. This weight gain only puts more pressure on my weakening body. More medical issues arise, creating more pain…without relief. I can no longer take NSAIDS due to long term use. There are no other options for me, except to suffer. Have I considered suicide? Damn right I have. However, I am not going to leave my loved ones with THAT pain. I can understand why a person would go through with it, though. Allow our doctors to treat us to the best of their ability. Test me, screen me, make me see a shrink and fill out more pain surveys, I don’t care. Just treat me as a human and address my pain. Give me back my medicine.


Does anyone know how to access the Comments (if they are accessible)? I believe I commented on the Task Force draft last month but must have hit “Send” before I saved it. I’m new at this process and did not set up an account at the time, which I now wish I had. I’d like to search for my comment but the website does not offer that option unless I missed it.

chuck darrah

I have had horrific constant chronic pain for 19 years which is worse since my medication has been dramatically reduced. My injuries only get worse with time and can not be fixed with any operations.My wife and I have spent a fortune on all the so called alternative solutions ; opiod medication is the only thing that works for me.I am housebound as my wife sits by watching me suffer unable to help ease my pain and what she is going thru just breaks my heart.How can human beings deny other human beings the medication we need to have some kind of quality of life ? You sentenced me to live in hell for the rest of my life based on false information and greed.At some point addicts chose to be addicts; we did not choose to be injured and in horrible constant chronic pain.Shame on all of you who caused and support this insanity !

. I have had two MRI’s and full body X-rays showing how going WITHOUT the medicine that I have been prescribed for over thirty-two years HAS caused my disease to spread to my heart eating away two holes in the valves and spreading down to the middle of my spine! When it had been stationary in my neck and hip -NOT spreading for over 32 years -IN ONE year my disease has spread and keeps spreading, from having my medicine intake, cut in half and the stress of having to jump through so many loops just to get half the dose each month. But, I was even trying hard, to deal with it UNTIL TODAY when they said they could not fill my legitimate prescription from a legitimate pain clinic, because their shipment was not in. The Pain and stress of all this is causing my disease to get so much worse,my body cannot go through the pain of not getting the pain medication again-it is crippling me. I have an incurable disease. WHAT is being done to me cannot be fixed. I feel hopeless and scared I do not want to live if I have to watch myself become a total cripple from this disease spreading thru my whole body WHY ARE THEY TREATING PAIN PATIENTS LIKE CRIMINALS ? all I did was be born with a genetic bone disease that has no cure, it was being managed with pain medicine! I cannot stop crying from the pain of being treated less than human. I was born in a time when doctors came to your home and made house calls – you trusted your doctor with your life and your children’s lives. Now, the government acts like they know more about my care than my doctor does. I do not have a one size fits all disease NO ONE DOES!


I hope the findings will benefit us that suffer from chronic pain. I wish I could live without pain meds. Thank-you.

Guinea Pig

HSS report: 1. Supports the manipulation of Patients for profit.
2. Subjects patients to “guinea pig treatment criteria “without” consent.
3. Patients “Human rights” and U.S. Constitutional rights of “privacy” are being advocated against; in violation of those rights.
4. No clear path…
5. Sets the stage for an increase in the black Market – by pushing Patients into…by means of unsupported costs of services – demanded and abusive behavior by providers demanding other treatments or other drugs “known to cause harm to the liver; Kidneys or death.
6. The “WE DON’T CARE” as long as its NOT an opiate approach of HSS – even at the cost of the Patient over all health.

I can get black market drugs easier and cheaper then seeing a medical provider – “why would ANYONE – want to deal with this mess they have crafted – for profit. Who in their right mind would ever tell a medical provider the truth – “knowing” they are only collecting data to be used to exploit them? “To harm them” as all of mine have done “since” the this push started.

I am the boss – NOT the doctor – The doctor is my “worker” and i will fire him/her… NOT the other-way around – for failing to treat me…he/she does not have the RIGHT to exploit me for profit or use me as cover from regulations; nor do they have the right to discriminate against me because i am a Chronic pain suffer – “When will Lawyers wake the Hell up and file suits on these MONSTERS!!!!

HHS – is nothing more then a contributor to the “Medical industrial complex” – “they are part of the problem”…

Everything was working prior to government interference –
They only ball that got dropped was “allowing illicit Fentanyl to flood in” now that it has – NO ONE – can put that Genie – back into the bottle…Your only making matters worse by Pushing Patients away form their doctors.

Thomas Kidd

What is going to happen to people with chronic pain and have been on Methadone for 30+ years and cannot get off it. I am no different than many war veterans that had to have morphine the rest of their lives. And one more thing. May local ER is basically shut down when it comes to chronic pain sufferers need help. Police are guarding the ER entrance and follow the providers every step. As I was turned away the police mocked and jeered. I am so sick of being treated as a criminal. Thomas Kidd Campbellsville, Kentucky.

Hari seldon

What happens when the politicians review the Task Force recommendations? Will the report become law? Will pain management practitioners be bound by Congress’ recommendations?


Of course, the PMTF and Congress want comments to falsely legitimate the process as being democratic so as to reassert the underpowered visionless regressive 1980’s style pain managerialism in pain care today. But the PMTF hasn’t even met minimum legal requirements as they have rejected numerous comments. In addition the law doesn’t preclude them from responding to each and every comment- that would be better indication that they genuinely heard the comments.
Congress’s and DHHS neoliberal paralysis and regressive morals and politics is on display here, They are too morally and mentally lazy and too captured by special interests to make pain care more moral, more individualized, more effective, less costly, less treatment burden, less copays.
People in pain and advocates have been deceived by Congress and DHHS pretending to be genuinely concerned about pain management guidelines. They gave no thought to acceptability and individual needs. Its a tragic farce. Let us not damn ourselves with feint hopes or demands. Let us call for transformative and empowering efforts on government. Instead they want us to settle for crummy 1980s style pain care.

Charles Bruscino

Holy Bad Science! What is it HHS doesn’t understand about the abuse, neglect and exploitation of children, the elderly and adults with disabilities as may apply to chronic pain? Unbelievable. These three “vulnerable populations” as described by federal and state laws are mandated to be protected from these three types of abhorrent and antisocial behaviors- abuse, neglect and exploitation that cause physical, psychological and financial injuries. Isn’t it a no-brainer that abuse, neglect and exploitation can interplay with treatment for chronic pain?

What? There are no excuses for such salient omissions!

Denying any individuals of these populations prescription opioids they’ve safely taken for years are forms of abuse and neglect, sometimes criminally so.

Where are the rational and just in our society?

Charles Bruscino
Research and Advocacy

Theresa Negrete

To bad all of this is too late for the Chronic Pain Patients who have made the ultimate choice, death over pain! They’ve already been abandoned by their Doctors and Goverment. Also, knowing that the supposed Opioid crisis was a HUGE LIE and many of us CPP’s get to suffer the results. Some of us have very little hope left! I’ll be getting what affairs I can get in order and I’m out of here too.
Please say a prayer for those families who have to live with the knowledge that their family member took their own lives because of a Government Lie and being forced to stop the medication that worked for them.

Biopsychosocial model is worse than Medical rehabilitative doctors. I feel it’s just another way the soak the insurance companies. We can write HHS amount the exams we receive from the medical rehabilitative doctors. LOL. Biopsychosocial model will probably pass bc they’ll use it to say this will help deter people from being addicted. Guess what it’ll be more ways to send people to addiction specialist. It should be called Insurance centered. Everyone’s looking for new ways to make money. How many ways does a patient have to jump through hoops just to get care for their pain. Clinics are closing bc people don’t have the money to fund it out of their pocket so they have to find another way that the government will approve to make money. Biopsychosocial has failed in the past. if you look it up & read about it you’ll see it is not good for intractable pain people. its sad bc while task force figures out what’s best for them, & disguised as patient–centered it’s not . intractable pain people will continue commit suicide or go to the streets to find relief. Intractable pain people are tired of the unrelenting pain & debt going through hoops to get light reprieve from pain. It’s like the rich man that wouldn’t give poor man food. But when the rich man died & went to hell, he could see the the poor man. Rich man begged him just a touch of his finger of water on his tongue. But he didn’t get it. I wonder about the souls of the people that R causing inhumane treatment & treatment at extremely high cost.