A California State Pain Policy May Be in the Works

A meeting in California’s state capitol this month produced by one of the state’s leading pain advocates will result in the introduction of legislation later this year that will create a California State Pain Policy.

And the legislation promises to be ambitious.

“We are very pleased with the meeting which attracted state legislators, legislative and Department of Public Health staffers, physicians and pain patients,” said Cynthia Toussaint, founder of For Grace –which is dedicated to promoting care and wellness for women in chronic pain.

Like most states, public health officials were not as aware of the chronic pain issue as, well, they should be. Depending on which estimate which you believe, California has between 6 and 12 million of its 40 million residents who suffer chronic pain.

“When we talked with state officials about chronic pain policy, they talked about opioid legislation. We explained that chronic pain is about much more than just opioids,” she said.

What can do we to improve pain care here in California?

“First of all, we cannot allow people to be denied medication they need to live their lives,” Toussaint declared.

And there’s more.

Toussaint said her group is working with legislators to draft a bill that will essentially become the California Pain Policy—one which can become a blueprint for other states.

“We are aiming for a comprehensive, integrated approach to the treatment of chronic pain,” said Toussaint who has CRPS. “I think we were able to educate our audience of policy makers and thought leaders that persistent pain is misunderstood, patients have to endure a bias of providers, family and co-workers about their illness and that your life—my life—is just not the same.”

The legislation will include four core elements:

It calls for the creation of a Center for the Improvement of Chronic Pain Research, Management and Prevention, an encouragement to develop Centers of Excellence in California hospitals in treating chronic pain, a dramatic increase in health provider education, expanded coverage of alternative therapies, particularly in Medi-Cal and Workers Compensation and improved public health education campaigns.

If this sounds familiar, it should—these are the basic tenets of the National Pain Strategy which was developed with great fanfare in 2016 but has suffered for the lack of implementation since.

“California has been a leader in so many areas—what happens here can often influence policy across the country. It’s well past time that we can lead in the treatment of chronic pain,” said Toussaint.

The event was captured via a webcast. We invite you to watch here.

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