By Ed Coghlan.
“There’s an imbalance in our drug control laws and policies between treating pain and reducing drug diversion and addiction. And it’s hurting pain patients.”
Those words from Diane Hoffmann, Director of the Law and Health Care Program and Jacob A. France Professor of Health Care Law at the University of Maryland.
This conflation of opioid addiction and opioid dependence has contributed to what Hoffman calls “chaos” in the chronic pain community.
“The efforts to restrict prescribing and eliminate Medicaid coverage of opioids, like what has been proposed in Oregon, and the outright abandonment of patients is outrageous. We need more leadership from the medical community,” she said.
That’s why Hoffmann is part of a unique effort to create a pain policy for the state of California that organizers hope will be something other states can use as a guide for a creating patient-centered pain policy.
The Summit will attract over 100 California thought-leaders and luminaries in pain management (physicians, payers, administrators, policy makers, etc.) to develop a California Pain Strategy. The goal is to localize key recommendations from the National Institutes of Health’s National Pain Strategy in the Golden State.
“California has been one of the more progressive states when it comes to legislation and policies addressing chronic pain management and can be a leader in developing ways to counteract the chilling effect the Centers for Disease Control Guideline has had,” Hoffmann said.
Hoffmann has authored a dozen articles on policies and practices that lead to undertreatment of pain. including “The Girl Who Cried Pain” which argues that women are more likely to be under-treated for their pain even though they are much more likely to suffer more chronic pain conditions than men.
One of the guiding documents for the California meeting will be the National Pain Strategy which Hoffmann called a useful template but since it has not been funded, “you wonder if it will ever be implemented.”
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