By Ed Coghlan
Friday August 12 is the deadline to sign a petition that urges the White House to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to fund the National Pain Strategy.
The U.S. Pain Foundation emailed its thousands of members urging them to sign it because “we know that today’s research, treatment, funding and educational efforts fall short to address the epidemic of chronic pain”.
The email stated that the National Pain Strategy (NPS) is the country’s first strategic plan to achieve a system of safe, effective and high-quality pain care informed by scientific evidence.
We at the National Pain Report urged people to sign it in an opinion piece earlier this week. There was quite a bit of commentary from readers who said they weren’t going to sign it. A recurring theme seemed to be a distrust of the federal government.
For chronic pain advocate Dr. Terri Lewis, who is a consistent critic about the government’s efforts for pain patients, this is an opportunity for pain patients to come together. She makes the case succinctly.
“We have to put our shoulders to the yoke and find a way to work together to perfect a decidedly imperfect document. It will not happen if we don’t start acting like a team of rivals joined together in the task of finding common ground.
As persons with pain, as care partners to persons with chronic pain, we cannot continue to operate from a position of seeking to satisfy our own personal needs before we are concerned for the process of building consensus.
Lawmaking is messy. At times it is ugly. It is often incomplete. But it is heroes work.
From law comes regulations - a process which relies on continuous improvements solicited from stakeholders.
From regulations comes research, programs, and funding.
If we want to be heard, if we want a stake in our personal outcomes, We absolutely must join around the task of building a structure to conceptualize the care of persons with pain in this country.
We’re the experts. Let’s take up this task.
US Pain Foundation Founder and CEO Paul Gileno, who supports the NPS, also understands the skepticism.
“I think people with pain may be skeptical because it came out at the same time as the CDC Guideline for Opioid Prescribing,” he told the National Pain Report.
“I don’t think people with pain have seen anything positive from our government when it comes to living with pain. People with pain are used to being stigmatized and judged because of the medicines some have to take. I also believe we need to educate and explain more why the NPS is so important and needed.
It costs about $635 billion dollars annually to treat chronic pain. Over 100-million Americans and 80% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic pain.
The NPS will promote research, healthcare provider training, insurance coverage for individualized pain care and public awareness of pain. Specific ways to achieve such goals are outlined within the NPS.”