New legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would provide those who suffer from chronic pain with easier access to non-opioid treatments.
If enacted, the bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) would allow patients who are candidates for spinal cord stimulation as a pain management treatment to undergo the required psychological evaluation to be done using telehealth.
Spinal cord stimulation places electrodes between the spinal cord and vertebrae that deliver an electrical current to the area, which eliminates pain in many patients. The procedure is used when other non-surgical treatments for pain have failed.
The legislation, H.R. 5833, would allow those in rural areas greater access to the procedure by eliminating the need to schedule in-person visits for the evaluations.
“Due to the lack of medical services in rural areas, it can be difficult for people with chronic pain to travel long distances to access non-opioid therapies,” Latta said in a statement. “This is especially true for treatments like spinal cord stimulation (SCS), which require a patient to get a psychological evaluation prior to receiving treatment. This extra step can further delay pain relief for patients living in remote areas with limited access to mental health services. H.R. 5833 improves access to SCS, an FDA approved non-opioid pain relief therapy, by expanding the use of telehealth for a psychological evaluation.”
The U.S. Pain Foundation applauded the measure.
“On behalf of our 188 volunteers for the US Pain Foundation living with pain in Ohio and the 50 million Americans living with daily chronic pain, we applaud Congressman Latta’s leadership on increasing patient access to pain management services via telehealth in rural and underserved communities,” Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation said. “Patients with debilitating pain conditions often struggle to travel to necessary medical appointments, which can be a huge barrier to getting the help they desperately need.”