By Ed Coghlan.
Noted Pain Advocate Cindy Steinberg has been appointed to the newly established Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. Steinberg is national director of Policy and Advocacy for the US Pain Foundation. She is the only person among the 28 members appointed by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to serve in a patient organization.
We had a few questions for her.
National Pain Report: “Why is the Advisory Committee important to the chronic pain community?”
Steinberg: “The Best Practices Pain Management Task Force is charged with determining and identifying gaps or inconsistencies in pain management best practices developed or adopted by federal agencies and recommending how best to resolve those inconsistencies and/or update best practices. Federal agencies play an enormous role in guiding the practice of pain management in this country. Regulations, guidelines and policies promulgated by FDA, CDC, CMS and other agencies affect the pain care of every American who seeks pain relief in one way or another. As such, the work of this Congressionally Mandated Task Force could be of critical importance to the chronic pain community.”
National Pain Report: “What do you hope the result of its work will be?”
Steinberg: “Sadly, I believe we have seen a retrenchment in the field of pain management over the past 2 years in which people with pain have lost access to treatment options and that loss has not been made up with improved access to complementary options nor new avenues of treatment. This has led to a crisis in pain management and a great deal of unnecessary suffering for people with pain. It is my hope that the Task Force will seriously consider the role that federal agencies have played in contributing to this crisis and will make recommendations that will lead to fundamental changes needed to dramatically improve pain care for all Americans.”
National Pain Report: “What is the message you plan to bring to the committee as the only pain advocacy person on it!”
Steinberg: “The voices of people with chronic pain have not been heard amidst the deafening cacophony surrounding the opioid crisis. There is another side to this national story that has been largely ignored, especially by the mainstream media but also by many of our federal government agencies charged with protecting the health of all Americans. That story is that millions of chronic pain sufferers cannot get care or are getting inadequate pain care. While the current state of our understanding of chronic pain is insufficient for there to be a “cure”, we do know how to manage pain, in most cases, so that people with pain can have a good quality of life despite the pain. We must provide people living with pain affordable access to a wide variety of treatment modalities and to knowledgeable, compassionate healthcare providers.”