Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for U.S. Pain Foundation, has been selected as one of four expert witnesses to speak at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions this week.
The hearing, “Managing Pain During the Opioid Crisis,” will take place in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, February 12, at 10 am EST.
For more information on the hearing, click here.
“Cindy will be allotted five minutes to speak and will answer questions from committee members. One of her key messages: While we must ensure that Congress’ large investments to ameliorate harms from opioid use disorder are accomplishing that important goal, we also must correct unintentional harms suffered by Americans living with pain and ensure that policy reform going forward considers pain patients’ needs as well,” said Nicole Hemmmenway, interim CEO of the US Pain Foundation.
Steinberg told us that the following are just some of what she plans to tell the panel.
As you plan future legislative action, she hopes Congress will consider these key points:
- Chronic pain affects 50 million Americans, including 20 million Americans who live with high-impact pain.
- The financial and societal burden of chronic pain is enormous: it costs the United States an estimated $635 billion annually in terms of lost productivity and health care costs. It is the leading cause of long-term disability.
- Chronic pain is a disease of the nervous system and brain that can and does last a lifetime. It is distinct from acute pain, which is time-limited.
- There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment for pain. Individualized care is essential. Patients must work closely with their healthcare providers to weigh the benefits and risks of each option.
- Chronic pain and opioid use disorder are distinct and separate diseases. Many patients use opioids legitimately and safely.
“We must restore access to care and medically necessary treatment for tens of thousands of pain patients who have been dropped from care by fearful and frustrated providers or who have been forcibly tapered off stable doses of opioids that have helped them for years and left to suffer with relentless pain. This is inhumane and morally reprehensible,” she said.
Steinberg, who also serves on the HHS Task Force for Best Practices in Pain Management, will be joined in testimony by three other professionals:
Halena Gazelka, M.D. is an Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Director, Mayo Clinic Inpatient Pain Service and is Chair, Mayo Clinic Opioid Stewardship Program in Rochester, Minnesota.
Andrew Coop, Ph.D. is Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore, Maryland.
Anuradha Rao-Patel, M.D. is the Lead Medical Director for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in Durham, North Carolina.