Thursday, March 11, 2010

Let's study pain

Have you ever been in pain? Of course you have. You’ve been riding this health care reform rollercoaster along with the rest of us, so I’m confident you’ve felt some pain during the past year (such as headaches from reading thousands of pages of legislative text!). And I’m sure there are other times in your life where you’ve been in pain for actual health-related reasons.

Pain is a significant health problem. Common pain conditions strike more than half of U.S. workers and cost employers $61 billion in lost productive time, according to one study. Untreated pain also affects quality of life and many aspects of daily living.

So, what’s this got to do with health care reform? Well, the Senate health reform bill (HR. 3590) contains a provision on research and treatment for pain care management.

Pursuant to Act Sec. 4305, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) must seek to enter into an agreement with the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies to convene a Conference on Pain (Conference). The Director of the National Institutes of Health is encouraged to continue and expand, through the Pain Consortium, a program of basic and clinical research on the causes of and potential treatments for pain. The HHS Secretary may award grants to foster pain care education and training programs for health care professionals.

Conference on pain. The purposes of the Conference are to:
  • increase the recognition of pain as a significant public health problem in the United States;

  • evaluate the adequacy of assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and management of acute and chronic pain in the general population, and in identified racial, ethnic, gender, age, and other demographic groups that may be disproportionately affected by inadequacies in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and management of pain;

  • identify barriers to appropriate pain care; and

  • establish an agenda for action in both the public and private sectors that will reduce such barriers and significantly improve the state of pain care research, education, and clinical care in the United States.

 So, how about we get started on managing pain by bringing this wild reform ride to an end?


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