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Chronic Illness Advocacy & Awareness Group, Inc.

CIAAG's Mission

The Chronic Illness Advocacy & Awareness Group, Inc. (CIAAG) is a national non-profit organization that promotes both a common-sense, compassionate and research-based ap​proach to palliative care along with the responsible prescribing of opioid medication to those experiencing chronic pain and illnesses, including:  serious injuries, intractable pain, and those who suffer from painful chronic diseases.

CIAAG’s mission is to work collaboratively with legislators in crafting the policy changes and legislation enacted to combat opioid abuse (including heroin and illicit fentanyl) in a way that does not restrict patients’ access to their medication.  Restricting access is not just a problem for the individual; it negatively impacts the nation’s public and economic health, resulting in previously functioning members of society being forced into unemployment and disability in response to the relentless, inhumane and debilitating pain they experience.

Intractable pain and forced isolation often leads to depression and other mental health crises as well.  Unfortunately, some patients have turned to the street to find unsafe alternatives (including dangerous counterfeit pills) in a desperate effort to relieve their untreated pain, while others have succumbed to suicide as a final escape.

CIAAG offers lawmakers and other decision-makers fact-based research on prescription opioid use from qualified physicians as well as policy white papers, testimonials and other resources to aid in crafting sensible policies around opiate use.              

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CIAAG 2020 Advocacy Goals:

Goal 1:  Compulsory Palliative Care & Opioid Management Education

CIAAG supports compulsory palliative care and opioid management education for all medical professionals; including nurses, physicians, specialists OB/GYN and pharmacists to be built into the undergraduate curriculum to ensure consistent competency in pain and symptom management.

Goal 2:  Include Qualified Pain Management Specialists and Patient Advocates on the State and Federal Opioid Task Forces and Committees

Advocate for balanced and unbiased committee membership including individuals that have experience in the field of pain management.  These individuals should be free from any potential conflict of interest (financial or professional) as well as free from association with other agencies that have historically been unsympathetic to the needs of patients with painful diseases/conditions.  In addition, we are seeking to have patient advocates added to these committees as these individuals have a unique insight into patient care in the real world setting.

Goal 3:  Ensure Patient Privacy & HIPAA Compliance

CIAAG advocates for patient privacy and HIPAA compliance to ensure patient care is not being unduly influenced by social factors protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Bill of Rights.

Goal 4:  Remove Incentives to Promote Denial of Opioid Analgesics

There are insurance companies offering higher reimbursement rates for surgeons to use non-opioid/non-pharmacological treatments for post-operative pain care in lieu of opioid analgesics.  In addition, some physician contracts are stating that reimbursement will be negatively effected if the physicians reach a certain threshold of patients that are receiving an opioid and/or benzodiazepine prescription.  These incentives are potential barriers to care and need to be removed.  A provider's reimbursement should not be effected by the medication needs of his patients.  Incentivizing post-operative pain care creates a conflict of interest and may encourage physicians to withhold necessary medications for their own financial benefit and may lead to increased patient suffering.

Goal 5:  Increased Transparency & Oversight into the Population Studies Taking Place at the National Institutes of Health and PCORI

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 included a pain care bill which directed a large number of population studies to take place as a means to learn how to "better manage pain".  Unfortunately, this has attracted a number of anti-opioid groups to the academic institutions that are conducting these studies as well as individuals with personal agendas and financial conflicts of interest.  As a result, we are seeking oversight into the population studies as well as investigations into the individuals who have undue influence on healthcare policy.

Goal 6:  Advocate for Patient Suicides and Medical Errors to be Tracked

There have been anecdotal reports of suicide due to untreated pain that are currently not being tracked/reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.  CIAAG's goal is to ensure all suicides are being properly tracked; including reason for the suicide/suicide attempts to assess the impact policy changes related to accessing opioid analgesics are having on patient care.

In addition, we are seeking to have the medical errors tracked and reviewed to determine if the changes to healthcare policy/access to medications are negatively impacting overall patient care; therefore, potentially contributing to an increase in medical errors.

Goal 7:  Raise Awareness & Advocate Against the Stigma Placed Upon People Living with Painful Conditions and/or Illnesses

CIAAG engages the patient community, lawmakers and other stakeholders to help educate them on the impact their words have on patient stigma as well as access to care.  through advocacy campaigns, conferences and events, we promote inclusive language and educate individuals on the differences between addiction and dependency.  We advocate against the use of labels such as "chronic opioid user", "catastrophizing" and "hyperalgesia", etc.

Goal 8:  Establish State Leaders in All 50 States

CIAAG offers all members the ability to participate in our "State Leadership Program".  We have designed this program to help empower our members to be able to confidently work with their elected officials as well as their state opioid task forces/committees.  We currently have members in all 50 states and are seeking leaders to come forward and establish silos in which other CIAAG members may collaborate and work as a team advocating in their home state.

Goal 9:  Obtain Sponsors for a Federal Bill:  "Equal & Fair Access to Palliative Care"

"Equal & Fair Access to Palliative Care" is a legislative bill we at CIAAG are advocating to get sponsored at the Federal Level.  The bill will create a universal definition for Palliative Care that aligns with World Health.  Individuals with incurable illnesses/conditions would receive treatment for the management of their symptoms to promote the best quality of life for the individual.

The language of the bill will be developed with congressional and senatorial leaders who bravely step forward to endorse this legislation to ensure the health and safety of all citizens.