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Interest, Funding, and Legislation Related to Integrative Pain Care Abounds

Posted By Katie Duensing, Thursday, April 19, 2018

Interest in comprehensive, integrative pain management continues to skyrocket. In the past month, we have seen many related opportunities arise that have the potential to truly shift the state of pain care in the United States.

Helping clinicians to understand the need to utilize comprehensive, integrative pain management

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has announced the NCCIH Integrative Medicine Research Lecture Series. The first two lectures will be:

  • Reframing the Primary Care Management of Chronic Pain on April 23rd
  • Caring for our Military: Considering Non-drug Therapies for Pain on June 4th

Improving government funding for pain research

The National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health have announced a funding opportunity titled Exploring Epigenomic or Non-Coding RNA Regulation in the Development, Maintenance, or Treatment of Chronic Pain. The purpose of this initiative is to encourage research that investigates the role of epigenetic or non-coding RNA regulatory pathways in the development, maintenance, or treatment of chronic pain, ultimately providing foundational knowledge that can be used to develop novel and non-addictive pain medications or to develop biomarkers that predict chronic pain progression or treatment response. 

The National Institutes of Health has launched the HEAL Initiative. Toward this effort, NIH is nearly doubling funding for research on opioid misuse/addiction and pain from approximately $600 million in fiscal year 2016 to $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2018. In part, the initiative will: define and support best practices for pain management using nondrug and integrated therapies for specific pain conditions; pursue public-private partnerships to develop new non-addictive pain medicines; and, launch a longitudinal study to follow patients 1) after acute onset of musculoskeletal pain, and 2) after surgery to identify biomarkers that might predict which individuals are more likely to transition from acute to chronic pain.

Moving legislation forward to improve coverage of integrative care

The ACE Research Act (HR 5002/S 2406) aims to provide NIH with the necessary tools and flexibility to support innovative medical research. It would enable the Director of NIH to more quickly and efficiently support research on new, non-addictive treatments for pain. Further, NIH will be able to more easily partner with innovative companies with cutting-edge technology to address the opioid overdose epidemic and other public health concerns. Multiple members of the Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress recently signed on in support of this bill.

Many state legislatures are currently considering legislation that would improve coverage of comprehensive, integrative pain management. You can find pain-related legislation sorted by state and by issue in AIPM’s legislation trackers. Some of the many bills of interest include:

  • RI S 2537, an act that would require health insurers to provide coverage for physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, and the healing art of acupuncture and oriental medicine. 
  • VT S 224, an act that would allow health insurers to subject health care services provided by a chiropractic physician to co-payments, but only so long as those co-payments are not greater than the amount of the co-payment applicable to care and services provided by a primary care provider under the plan. 
  • MO SB 597, an act that would expand MO HealthNet payments to include up to twenty (20) visits per year for services limited to examinations, diagnoses, adjustments, and manipulations and treatments of malpositioned articulations and structures of the body provided by licensed chiropractic physicians practicing within their scope of practice. 
  • NY SB 5764, an act that would prohibit insurers from imposing co-payments for physical or occupational therapy greater than the co-pay for similar services provided by a physician.

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