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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Organizations: Sign NCIL’s Petition to Help Protect Access to Opioids for People with Chronic Pain

To address the opioid crisis, several policies have been enacted that limit prescriptions. As a result, people in pain continue to face barriers to accessing medication and managing their pain. Our community is disproportionately affected by these policies because many people with disabilities live with serious or chronic pain.

In November 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new updated Guideline for Prescribing Opioids, warning policymakers that limits on prescribing have caused harm to people living with pain.

Despite the CDC’s 2022 guidance, many who have relied on opioid medications, often for decades, continue to see their medication forcibly reduced or eliminated. Some have been denied medical care altogether. Physicians remain under pressure to reduce or discontinue long-term prescriptions, even for people who benefit from the medication. The harm caused by these policies, now documented in numerous studies, has ranged from increased pain to loss of function, to suicide or resorting to illegal substances.

The harm cannot be undone, but action now can stop further harm.

Therefore, NCIL has drafted two new letters to the federal government.

Our first letter will be sent to Congressional leadership, leaders of key committees, and sponsors of key bills.

Several concerning bills have been introduced in Congress this year, including a proposal to add a per-milligram fee to all opioid medications and a requirement that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reconsider approval for opioid medications currently on the market.

We are asking Congress to work with disabled constituents and disability rights organizations when developing legislation that could affect people in pain.

Our second letter addresses barriers that people with disabilities (including chronic pain and ADHD) experience when accessing controlled-substance prescriptions. Since the pandemic emergency ended in May 2023, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has proposed stricter rules for prescribing and dispensing controlled substances by telemedicine. NCIL is collaborating with APRIL (Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living) on a letter asking Health and Human Services (HHS) and DEA to retain more flexible rules for telemedicine prescribing.

As organizations that advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, we hope you will add your organization as a signatory to these two letters. The deadline to sign on is Monday December 12, 2023.

If you have any questions please contact NCIL Director of Advocacy and Public Policy Jessica Podesva at [email protected].

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  1. janice wallace says

    Supply people what they need when it comes to health care, including medications that make life livable. Health care in general needs to be improved, treatments and surgeries. For those in pain, pain meds are literally a matter of life and death. If you REALLY want people to have fully functional lives and quality of life, supply pain meds. And stop being so worried about addiction and such that do you do nothing for those you need it, those who depend on REAL health care.

  2. janice wallace says

    Supply medications to those who need them, especially pain meds.