By Ed Coghlan.
President Trump – a year after he proclaimed the opioid issue a national emergency – is expected to quickly sign a sweeping opioid bill that the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed on Wednesday.
The Senate approved the bill 98-to-1 (only Utah Senator Mike Lee voted no) after the House passed is 393-8 last week.
For a federal legislature that has been paralyzed by political division, this is a rare bi-partisan moment.
The bill is a composite of literally dozens of smaller proposals sponsored by numerous lawmakers who are looking to position themselves against opioid addiction in the November elections.
If you’re wondering what’s in the bill for the chronic pain community, the answer at first glance is not much. Here’s how the Washington Post summarized what’s in the bill—and you’ll see it is mostly about addiction.
As an example, here is what California Senator Dianne Feinstein said:
“Congress is finally taking action to address the drug overdose problem that has reached epidemic levels, claiming more than 70,000 lives last year alone, including 49,031 that were opioid-specific,” Feinstein said.
“We’ve seen the rise of powerful synthetic drugs like fentanyl that have the potential to make an already terrible problem worse. Exposure to miniscule amounts can have deadly consequences for users as well as first responders. That’s why this bill takes a broad-spectrum approach to meet the opioid crisis head on.”
“The bill reauthorizes critical substance abuse prevention programs, expands access to treatment and provides law enforcement with tools to stop the trafficking of illicit substances.”
The bill certainly gives more attention to treatment of addiction – creating a grant program to comprehensive recovery centers that include housing and job training and would also increase access to “medication-assisted” treatment to help people with substance abuse disorders wean themselves.
But it is silent on the chronic pain issue and the patients who use opioids to manage their pain—again pointing out the lack of attention that elected officials are giving to the 100 million Americans who have chronic pain.
We have two questions that we’d pose to our readers – please let us know what you think in our comment section:
Why do you think the chronic pain community is not being considered in this legislation?
What do you want Congress to know about chronic pain?
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