In 2009, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted unanimously to include the National Pain Care Policy Act 2009 (S660) into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). The key provisions included:
- Mandating an Institute of Medicine conference on pain to address key medical and policy issues affecting the delivery of quality pain care;
- Establishing a training program to improve the skills of health care professionals to assess and treat pain; and,
- Enhancing the pain research agenda for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Section 4305 of the 2010 ACA required the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to enter into an agreement with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to “increase the recognition of pain as a significant public health problem in the United States.” Accordingly, HHS, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) requested that the IOM conduct a study to assess the state of the science regarding pain research, care, and education, and to make recommendations to advance the field. The resulting 2011 IOM Report
Relieving Pain in America was published in June of 2011 and calls for a cultural transformation of how pain is perceived, judged and treated.
In 2013 “The IPRCC was charged by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health to create a comprehensive population health level strategy for pain prevention, treatment, management, and research” (iprcc.nih.gov/National_Pain_Strategy/NPS_Main.htm) utilizing a core recommendation of the 2011 IOM Report: Relieving Pain in America as outlined under Recommendation 2-2:
“The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should develop a comprehensive, population health-level strategy for pain prevention, treatment, management, education, reimbursement, and research that includes specific goals, actions, time frames, and resources.”
In coordination with HHS and as part of the ACA, NIH originally developed the IPRCC in 2010 as a federal advisory committee to coordinate all pain research efforts within HHS and across other federal agencies. The IPRCC is composed of seven federal members and twelve non-federal members, six drawn from the scientific and medical communities and six members of the public and stakeholder groups.
The IOM report highlighted specific objectives for the strategy:
- Describe how efforts across government agencies, including public–private partnerships, can be established, coordinated, and integrated to encourage population-focused research, education, communication, and community-wide approaches that can help reduce pain and its consequences and remediate disparities in the experience of pain among subgroups of Americans.
- Include an agenda for developing physiological, clinical, behavioral, and psychological outcomes, and health services research and appropriate links across these domains.
- Improve pain assessment and management programs within the service delivery and financing programs of the federal government.
- Proceed in cooperation with the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee and the National Institutes of Health’s Pain Consortium and reach out to private-sector participants as appropriate.
- Involve the appropriate agencies and entities.
- Include ongoing efforts to enhance public awareness about the nature of chronic pain and the role of self-care in its management.
Under the auspices of the IPRCC, the National Pain Strategy Task Force Working Groups were organized to create the National Pain Strategy (NPS). Seven working groups (comprised of 80 experts across America) then developed the comprehensive NPS. NPS Task Force members include patient advocates:
- Jan Chambers, President of National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association;
- Lee Claassen, Executive Director of Interstitial Cystitis Association;
- Penney Cowan, President of American Chronic Pain Association;
- Terrie Cowley, President of TMJ Association;
- Cindy Steinberg, Policy Director for U.S. Pain Foundation; and
- Christin Veasley, Co-founder of the Chronic Pain Research Alliance.
The National Pain Strategy developed by the National Pain Strategy Task Force has been under review by HHS for several months and will soon be released for a 30-day public comment period. People with chronic pain, their families, friends, healthcare providers, and all stakeholders are urged to respond to the recommendations and actions generated by the National Pain Strategy Task Force. Your voice matters, and it is important that you respond to the public comment period so that people affected by chronic pain will be heard.
Watch for more information about the National Pain Strategy and how you can help to ensure recognition of important issues faced everyday by people with FM and chronic pain.