Michigan scores well in balanced pain management

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Michigan is doing well in delivering effective pain management to patients battling chronic diseases like cancer, according to a new report issued today by leading researchers and patient advocacy groups.

Nationwide, the findings illustrated that while states have made considerable progress over the last decade in enacting policies that enhance access to pain care, this progress has slowed, and in some states declined, in recent years.

The report gave Michigan a letter grade of ‘A’ in measuring the quality and balance of these policies.

The report, Achieving Balance in State Pain Policy: A Progress Report Card (CY 2015), indicates the extent that state policies can support pain management and patient care.

The University of Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies Group (PPSG) prepared the report, which was jointly funded by the American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“Michigan is doing well in implementing sensible policies that make pain treatment available to people with cancer and other diseases. Through effective regulation, we can continue to better address the serious problem of untreated and poorly treated pain and, at the same time, establish a system to mitigate drug abuse,” said David Woodmansee, associate director of state and local campaigns for ACS CAN. “Patients, health organizations and policymakers all have a critical role to play in promoting a balanced approach to pain control.”

PPSG researchers evaluated state laws and regulatory policies to determine whether they could enhance or impede pain management. The report assigns each state a letter grade that reflects the quality of its policies. According to the findings, Michigan has received an ‘A’ grade since 2008.

Nationwide, only seven states changed or adopted new policies to improve access to pain management between 2013 and 2015, while six received worse grades.

These progresses were largely a result of state health-care regulatory boards adopting guidelines to encourage appropriate pain management and policymakers repealing restrictive or ambiguous policy language.

On the other hand, declines are likely a result of well-intended rules to curb opioid abuse that failed to consider the unintended consequences.

“There is a growing movement to rein in opioid abuse in this country, but we have to be careful when considering some of these stringent prescribing guidelines,” Woodmansee said. “While ACS CAN supports the effort to address this serious public health issue, it is critical that any measures put in place stress the need for balanced policies that do not impede access to pain relief for those who need it.”

Pain is the most common reason Americans access the health care system and the leading contributor to health-care costs.

Most painful conditions can be relieved with proper treatment, but patients often face significant barriers that can prevent proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment of pain.

Untreated pain can devastate a person’s quality of life, affecting all aspects of daily functioning, including sleep, work and relationships.

The complete report, Achieving Balance in State Pain Policy: A Progress Report Card (CY 2015) is available at acscan.org/painreportcard.

About the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

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 www.acscan.org.