National Pain Care Legislation Clears Another Key Hurdle

September 25, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- September 25, 2008 -- A bill that would give relief to millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain cleared a major legislative hurdle with its overwhelming approval by the full House of Representatives late last night.  The National Pain Care Policy Act, which would improve pain care research, education, training and access, was passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week and now heads to the Senate.

Chronic pain affects an estimated 76.2 million Americans more than cancer, diabetes and heart disease combined according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Pain is also the most common reason Americans access the health care system and is a leading contributor to health care costs, accounting for more than $100 billion a year in expenses and lost productivity.

“Cancer patients face a fear of pain that can be worse than the fear of treatment itself,” said Daniel E. Smith, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “This legislation will address significant pain management barriers such as, lack of physician training, patient awareness and treatment disparities based on gender, age and race.”

Key components of the bill include:

  • The authorization of an Institute of Medicine Conference on Pain Care;
  • Encourages the National Institutes of Health (NIH) director to aggressively expand research on the causes of and the potential treatment for pain;
  • The creation of a grant program to improve health professionals’ understanding and ability to assess and appropriately treat pain; and
  • The creation of a national public awareness campaign about pain management, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, with particular attention to improving access to appropriate pain treatment among underserved populations.

“Everyone should be afforded access to appropriate, timely and unbiased pain care, but millions of Americans are denied the care they need to treat severe pain,” Smith said. “By increasing research, education and awareness of pain issues, the National Pain Care Policy Act takes important steps toward making these rights a reality.”

Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Mike Rogers (R-MI) have championed the issue of proper pain care education and awareness since introduction of the bill late last year. 

ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan partner advocacy organization of the American Cancer Society, dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage lawmakers, candidates and government officials to support laws and policies that will make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer. For more information, visit

Alissa Havens
Phone: (202) 661-5772       
Email: [email protected]

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