Senators Introduce National Pain Care Bill That Could Help Millions of Americans Cope with Chronic Pain

March 20, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- March 20, 2009 -- Millions of Americans who suffer from pain could soon find relief thanks to bipartisan legislation introduced last night in the U.S. Senate. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) introduced the National Pain Care Policy Act of 2009 (S. 660), which would improve pain care research, education, training, and access. 

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. 

“For many cancer patients, fear of cancer pain is worse than fear of death itself,” said Daniel E. Smith, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “The good news is that nearly all cancer pain can be alleviated if treated adequately and responsibly. 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.

“Access to appropriate, timely and unbiased pain care is a fundamental right.  For a number of reasons, these rights are sadly unrealized for millions of Americans in pain,” said Smith.  “By increasing research, education and awareness of pain issues, the National Pain Care Policy Act takes important steps toward making these rights a reality.”

Senators Hatch and Dodd renewed their commitment to the issue of proper pain care education and awareness by introducing the bill for the second year in row.  Elected officials have a great opportunity to positively impact the health of their constituents by working quickly to make this bill a reality.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

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

Audrey Pernik
Phone: (202) 661-5763
Email: [email protected]

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