A couple of pro-pain patients’ bills are under consideration in two New England states.
We reported recently on the bill Claudia Merandi has been promoting—one that passed the State House late last year and look promising to pass both houses this year.
Now In New Hampshire, a small group of chronic pain patient advocates have helped a state legislator who drafted a bill that advocates says will protect chronic pain patients — and the doctors who care for them.
Senate Bill 546 calls for providers to “administer care sufficient to treat a patient’s chronic pain based on ongoing, objective evaluations of the patient without fear of reprimand or discipline.” It also states that patient care and prescribing of medication, including opioid painkillers, should not be dictated by “pre-determined” guidelines.
Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, said he sponsored SB546 at the request of a friend who suffers from a chronic pain syndrome. “She said you can’t get a doctor to prescribe enough painkillers,” he said.
At issue are both federal and New Hampshire prescribing guidelines adopted in recent years in response to a concern about overuse of opioid medication. The CDC Guideline and parallel law enforcement action by the Drug Enforcement Administration have resulted in what chronic pain patient advocates believe is an overreaction—and that patients who have depended upon responsible use op opioid medication over an extended period of time to address their chronic pain.
As one of the New Hampshire advocates shared with us (without attribution), “The fact we are a small state actually helps us. We were a small and focused group and were able to get the ear of a sympathetic state legislator who quickly understood the problem the prescribing guidelines have created.”
As the National Pain Report has argued over the past several years, there is no federal pain policy, but rather at least 51 of them (representing each state and the District of Columbia)
The fact that advocates in these two states have been able to introduce this type of legislation is an example for people in other states to get to work at the policy level.