by Shaina Smith
U.S. Pain Foundation is a nonprofit organization created by people with pain for people with pain. What is now the nation’s leading patient-advocacy force started out as a small support group in Connecticut. With a grassroots approach toward advocacy efforts and cultivating educational and empowering programs, the organization has never taken a position on political views. And it won’t.
But one thing U.S. Pain will do is express the realities facing people with invisible illnesses and chronic pain. We know that policy makers have the authority to impose laws that may have good intentions behind it, but unfortunately limit access to life-saving treatments. We know that political climates within each state drive votes toward some legislation and away from others. We also know that affordable healthcare, quality management, and treatment options are important to the chronic pain community.
U.S. Pain has been fighting for basic patient rights since its inception. Through the flagship program of the organization, the INvisible Project, brings visibility to the invisible, internal struggles of people living with chronic pain through a photojournalistic approach. Sharing the stories of real people not only creates hope and further understanding, but also has proven to be an effective tool to make positive change for pain warriors.
The nation’s election results will not stop our endeavors. U.S. Pain plans to enter 2017 with more vigor and enthusiasm than ever before; state and national trends have depicted that this upcoming legislation session will bring with it a wave of proposed bills and regulations that will undoubtedly disrupt the pain patient’s journey toward much needed treatment options.
As a patient-driven organization, whose board members and directors all have at least one rare, complex and/or incurable pain condition, all our initiatives are built with the chronic pain patient’s best interest in mind. With 1 in 3 Americans riddled with chronic pain, U.S. Pain acknowledges the challenges that are ahead for people with pain. Its volunteers and directors have spent years battling societal stigma and educating lawmakers, caregivers and physicians with invaluable information surrounding the complexities of pain since the organization’s inception. Yet we are undeterred.
On the morning following the election results, the U.S. Pain team agreed that to secure the progress pain warriors have made so far, the organization will use its existing capacities and new innovative tools to leverage our cause. But we can’t do it alone. U.S. Pain is once again calling on patient-driven organizations and fellow pain warriors to unite. Now is the time to put our differences aside as we look at working diligently together to protect our access to the care we need and deserve. It is unclear how recent events will have an impact on the existing governing entities relating to patients, America’s healthcare system, and the way chronic pain is diagnosed, treated and managed. It is, however, clear that there must be an organized effort to ensure the rights of pain patients.
U.S. Pain Foundation continues to remain unbiased and optimistic following the elections. We’re hopeful that its existing and future campaigns will lift up the pain community to the next level of advocacy and awareness. If you are a caregiver, person living with pain, nonprofit organization which supports the vulnerable pain population or just an advocate for patient rights, know that you are not alone in this succeeding plane to validate, empower and mobilize people living with pain. We can and will transform the way our nation views chronic pain. We hope you will join our journey.