Senators Urge Action on National Pain Strategy

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has a question for HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell: Any progress on the National Pain Strategy? In a letter to Secretary Burwell, 12 senators reiterate the widespread suffering and financial toll of chronic pain. “It is time,” they explain, “to transform the [National Pain Strategy] from a plan on paper to a reality …to improve [Americans’] health and quality of life.”

Released in March 2016, the National Pain Strategy states the need for an implementation and evaluation plan to put its principles into action. Senators request in their letter that HHS update stakeholders about their plans for that implementation, addressing several question in particular:

  1. Who will lead NPS implementation efforts?
  2. What is the agency’s budget for NPS implementation?
  3. What is the agency’s timeline for NPS implementation?
  4. In what ways will stakeholders be consulted throughout NPS implementation?
  5. In what ways will barriers to quality pain care for underserved populations be addressed?

Signatories include: Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah); Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii); Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.); Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); Susan Collins (R-Maine); Angus King (I-Maine); Mark Kirk (R-Ill.); Jerry Moran (R-Kan.); Pat Roberts (R-Kan.); Marco Rubio (R-Fla.); and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). Senators request the update by September 30, 2016.

About the National Pain Strategy

Developed by six federal agencies and 80 experts from across the medical, advocacy and scientific communities, the National Pain Strategy acknowledges the barriers and stigma associated with pain care as well as the need for integrated and multimodal treatment. The strategy envisions:

  • Access to patient-centered care and educational materials on pain self-management
  • Public recognition of chronic pain as a “complex disease” and compassion for those who suffer from it
  • Payment models that support integrated, multimodal treatment
  • More and better data on the health and economic burdens of chronic pain as well as the effectiveness and value of treatment approaches.

The document identifies short-, medium- and long-term deliverables and strategies that can guide and gauge progress.

The National Pain Strategy stems from the 2009 National Pain Care Policy Act, which outlines ways to address chronic pain. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine followed up by releasing “Relieving Pain in America,” a report documenting the impact of chronic pain. The report recommended a comprehensive strategy to advance pain care, research and education, which ultimately led to the National Pain Strategy.


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