As our nation tries to formulate a comprehensive and effective pain care policy, organizational interests have co-opted pain patients and quickly banded together to form what’s essentially a cartel to influence pain policy through the National Pain Strategy (NPS).
From their press release of April 7, 2015:
“The Consumer Pain Advocacy Task Force, a new coalition of seventeen consumer organizations and advocacy groups created specifically to promote, support and monitor the implementation of the NPS, is calling for HHS to proactively develop a federal oversight body and start the budgeting process now.”
They are clearly suggesting themselves as this new “federal oversight body” and naturally want the money to start flowing as soon as possible. Do we really need yet another bureaucratic organization between us and our pain relief?
Their claim to be patient advocates rings hollow, considering the name they have chosen:
The *Consumer* Pain Advocacy Task Force
I object to being called a “consumer” of pain care. If I were a consumer, I would have choices. I could decide for myself what treatments and medications to use, and then compare prices to find the best value for my money. Consumers are customers, who’s every whim is catered to by businesses.
I am not a consumer.
I am a patient who needs medical care.
Envisioning patients as consumers makes it perfectly clear where the interests of this organization lie. I cannot imagine any pain patients still feel like consumers in this system, since our choices have been deliberately legislated away.
The appearance of legitimately speaking for pain patients gives this umbrella organization even more influence than blatant commercial entities, like drug and testing companies.
The CPATF endorses the NPS, despite the burden it places on pain patients and its perverse financial incentives.
And who could blame them?
Current policies have created a ridiculously lucrative business opportunity with legislatively guaranteed customers (just like the problematic Recovery Industry). Because chronic pain patients are lifelong “customers” of the Pain Care Industry, the financial opportunities are just irresistible.
Under constant threat of losing access to our pain medications, we have no choice but to use the “services” these businesses offer, for instance, drug-testing.
If every pain patient is forced to see their pain care “provider” to take a drug-test “product” 12 times a year for life, the potential for obscene profits is obvious.
But this profit comes at the expense of pain patients, because many insurance companies won’t pay for all these tests, rightfully claiming they aren’t medically necessary.
There are just too many ways to make money from our misery:
- newer and far more expensive “abuse-resistant” opioid pills
- drug-testing, both in-office and the more expensive chromatography-mass-spectrometry tests.
- patient monitoring (Promoting Continuous Monitoring of Patients on Opioids)
- new non-opioid medications that claim to work, but often don’t
- complementary therapies, whether they are appropriate for our condition or not
- various injections, which have not been scientifically proven effective
- surgeries that leave us further damaged, (which happens so often there’s an official diagnosis for “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome”)
Yet, if we refuse any of these treatments for any reason (including that we cannot afford them), we are considered non-compliant and have our opiates taken away.
Additionally, the NPS segregates patients by income: only the well-to-do can afford expensive drug tests and doctors’ visits 12 times a year for life. Even with insurance, the co-pays for such frequent services become prohibitive; tests can cost a patient up to $2500.
By mandating the use of commercial business “products”, like drug testing or patient monitoring, the NPS leaves us defenseless against pillage, plunder, and financial rape by:
- drug companies, which are raising prices relentlessly, sometimes 300% annually even for decades-old generic medications.
- PROP, a well-financed group of “Interventional Pain Specialists” campaigning against the use of opioids. Instead, they promote:
- New non-medical “medical service” corporations, eager to offer:
- drug testing
- patient screening
- patient monitoring
A multitude of these new businesses are forming to address all imaginable aspects of our pain care, which is now ruled by non-medical commercial and political interests, not our doctors.
It’s like a gold rush on Wall Street, as more and more players show up for a piece of the pain care pie.
Task Force Members:
- American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
- American Chronic Pain Association
- Chronic Pain Research Alliance
- Global Healthy Living Foundation
- Interstitial Cystitis Association
- National Fibromyalgia Chronic Pain Association
- National Patient Advocate Foundation
- Pain Connection
- Power of Pain Foundation
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association
- State Pain Policy Advocacy Network
- The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy
- TMJ Association
- The Pain Community
- US Pain Foundation