National Pain Care Policy Act of 2008 passes in the House of Representatives

GREAT NEWS from the American Pain Foundation:


full text

summary (also printed below)

Now on to the Senate!

Here's how you can help, and it's REALLY EASY:

Go to the APF Online Advocacy Center. Click Take Action and fill out the form. Click Next Step, and your senators names will be filled in. Your can email and/or print your message to the senators (you can use the message the APF has already written for you, if you want).

For Release: September 24, 2008
Contact: Tina Regester
(443) 690-4707

Statement attributable to: Will Rowe, Chief Executive Officer, American Pain Foundation


Today’s Vote Represents Critical Step to Improving Pain Management in America

Baltimore, MD—“The American Pain Foundation (APF) applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for taking a critical step in helping to improve pain care in America by passing the “National Pain Care Policy Act of 2008” (HR 2994). The potential impact of this legislation on everyday lives cannot be overstated, nor can the tireless efforts of all of the individuals and organizations that have steadfastly joined forces to move this bill forward.

“Despite the fact that pain affects more than 76 million Americans—more than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined—it remains woefully undertreated and misunderstood. All too common are stories of patients in the grip of pain, who are left to consult multiple care providers before their pain is properly diagnosed and managed, if it ever is. Not only is unmanaged pain emotionally and physically debilitating for patients, it also places a heavy burden on families and caregivers. The undertreatment of pain is also estimated to contribute to excessive healthcare costs and lost work productivity of approximately $100 billion every year.

“The present legislation authorizes an Institute of Medicine (IOM) conference on pain care, creates an interagency coordinating committee charged with identifying critical gaps in pain research, expands collaborative pain research across federal agencies and the private sector, and provides for a grant program to improve health professionals' understanding and ability to assess and treat pain. It also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and implement a national outreach and awareness campaign to educate patients and caregivers on the significance of pain as a public health problem.

“The companion measure (S3387) was introduced by Senators Orin Hatch (R-UT) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) this summer. We urge members of the U.S. Senate to consider the millions of Americans who needlessly suffer with debilitating pain—whether it’s post-operative pain, pain from an injury or the result of well-known chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and arthritis—when they cast their votes on this important issue.

“Congressional action to provide strong and effective direction and resources to advance pain medicine has been long overdue. Too many lives have been shattered by untreated or improperly treated pain, which can negatively impact almost every aspect of a person’s life including sleep, work, and social and sexual relations. People in pain have a right to timely, appropriate pain care.

“Since its inception, APF has been at the forefront of advocating for people living with pain and their caregivers. APF, along with a dedicated and extensive grassroots network of advocates and national partnering organizations, has been steadfast in its efforts to move this legislation forward. A basic tenet of medicine is to do no harm and to alleviate suffering. This legislation helps uphold the standard of medical care that every Americans deserves, and that which we should not falter to provide.”

Founded in 1997, the American Pain Foundation (APF) is an independent nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization serving people with pain through information, advocacy and support. The mission of APF is to improve the quality of life of people by raising public awareness, providing practical information, promoting research and advocating to remove barriers and increase access to effective pain management. For more information, visit the American Pain Foundation.



Pain is the most common reason Americans access the health care system and is a leading contributor to health care costs. Pain is also a leading cause of disability. Most painful conditions can be relieved with proper treatment, and providing adequate pain management is a crucial component of improving and maintaining quality of life for patients, survivors, and their loved ones. Yet people in pain often face significant barriers that can prevent proper assessment, diagnosis, treatment and management of their pain. The National Pain Care Policy Act of 2008 is designed to address many of these barriers by improving pain care research, education, training, access, outreach and care.


Section 2 authorizes an Institute of Medicine Conference on Pain Care to:
• Increase awareness of pain as a significant public health problem;
• Evaluate the adequacy of pain assessment, treatment and management;
• Identify barriers to appropriate pain care;
• Establish an action agenda to address barriers and improve pain care research, education, training and clinical care;
• Highlight disparities in pain care specific to populations that are disproportionately under-treated for pain; and
• Report to Congress on findings and recommendations.
Section 3 encourages the Director of NIH to continue and expand, through the Pain Consortium, an aggressive program of basic and clinical research on the causes of and potential treatments for pain.
• Requires the Pain Consortium to submit annual recommendations to the Director of NIH for appropriate pain research initiative that could be undertaken with the Common Fund.
• Establishes a Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee to coordinate all efforts within the Department of HHS and other Federal agencies that relate to pain research. The Coordinating Committee is charged with identifying critical gaps in pain research, eliminating duplication of efforts at HHS and other federal agencies, and expanding collaborative pain research across federal agencies and the private sector. Membership in the committee will include critical representation from outside of government


Section 4 creates a grant program to improve health professionals’ understanding and ability to assess and appropriately treat pain:
• Physician specialty groups and academic institutions involved in pain care will have the primary responsibility of
collecting and disseminating protocols for evidence-based practices regarding pain; and
• Authorizes the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to provide grants for development and
implementation of programs to educate and train professionals in pain assessment and care.


Section 5 requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and implement a national outreach and awareness campaign to educate consumers, patients, families and other caregivers on the:

• Significance of pain as a national public health problem;
• Risks to patients if pain is not properly assessed and treated;
• Availability, benefits, and risks of treatment and management options;
• Importance of having pain assessed and treated;
• Role of pain management specialists;
• Resources available to patients and other consumers to help in dealing with pain;
• Prevalence and causes of disparities in pain management among underserved populations; and requires an evaluation and report on the campaign’s effectiveness.
In designing the program, the bill emphasizes the need to reach underserved populations and to provide resources that will reduce disparities in access to appropriate pain treatment.

August 4, 2008


  1. Sherril,

    This is an amazing post, as always! I "took action" and my voice is now on the way to Congress! :)

    I also just wrote a post on my blog about this issue and, of course, linked back to your site which explained things so very well.

    Thank you for bringing this bill to my attention and to the attention of all your readers.

    It's great to have something constructive to do (like this) when chronic illness often leads to feelings of helplessness.

    Taking action like this can be very empowering! :)

    Take care,


  2. Thanks, Jeanne, as always for the positive feedback. It is MUCH appreciated!


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