Opioid Tax: Letter to my state representative
Dear State Representative,
Myself and my family are very excited about all of the things you are doing to support those with disabilities. My father heard you speak on the issues of pain medication and addiction, and trying to find common ground so both pain diseases and addiction disease can be treated simultaneously. That is a stance we in the chronic pain community are very excited to hear and support you in that!
In case you did not know about this newly proposed opioid tax, I wanted to give you a little information.
It is proposed that opioid pain medication will be taxed one cent per milligram to fund treatments for addiction.
As you can imagine, those with chronic pain diseases like Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, CRPS/RSD, Fibromyalgia, or post-cancer pain would be paying for addiction treatments while those with addiction will just buy their drugs illegally instead of paying a raised price from the pharmacy.
Because this tax proposed is “per milligram,” those suffering with the most severe, most debilitating cases of degenerative neurological pain will likely have the most un-affordable pharmaceutical pain management care, as our doses are typically higher, as you might imagine.
As I am a newly single woman, more recently on disability, I know that the government works hard to keep drug prices low for those with disabilities. A tax will only make pain medication more un-affordable for those who are spending all of their funds on medical care as is. If this tax is passed on pain medication, it will begin a precedent to tax other RX drugs. It’s one cent now, but it won’t stop there.
Since the CDC’s federal guidelines on opioid control, chronic pain patients are struggling to find pain management care with good pain doctors who are not afraid to treat us. Deaths and overdoses continue to rise. Deaths of people in pain, who are without treatment, and deaths from those who are addicts, continuing to overdose. The guidelines do not work! The tax will not work either.
Again, pain patients are being forced to pay for a disease (addiction) which is not our own. The tax would exclude hospice patients, but what about pain patients who are bedbound like myself? What about those of us who have tried every treatment available and medication therapy is the only option that doesn’t worsen our conditions? What about those trying to maintain a somewhat functional life through chronic pain, and to keep off of permanent disability, taking medications is the only way to continue working and participating in family life?
Medical treatments should never be a punishment. Is this a “sin” tax? Am I sinning? Why should I be ashamed of having an illness I didn’t choose? I am alive in part because of my medications, and so are many, many people! That is nothing to be ashamed of.
Will diabetic medications be taxed to help treat cancer? Maybe Methadone, Suboxone, and Narcan (addiction medications) could be taxed to pay for chronic pain treatment facilities! We are certainly in need of those.
Thank you for using your platform to speak for people like myself.
Please do write your representative today, so a ludicrous tax like this would never get passed. No time to waste!
Posted on June 8, 2016, in advocacy, Uncategorized and tagged #painedlivesmatter, #Patientsnotaddicts, #sicklivesmatter, advocacy, awareness, CDC guidelines for pain medication, Chronic Illness, Chronic pain, crps, fibromyalgia, letter to my representative, migraine, MS, opioid tax, Opioids, pain medication, pain medication tax, rsd, RSD/CRPS. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
Very well written, Mary.I would have had a hard time not being more angry lol It’s good to keep a cool head. It’s great to acknowledge the need for addicted people who should indeed receive treatment (there are so many misconceptions about how they end up like that – they have great TED talks on the subject now) But of course, that is wrong to finance it on the backs of another targeted group. The US spend so much on healthcare costs, more than publicly funded countries (John Green made an excellent videos with statistics about this and the reasons why). Watching John Oliver taught us a lot and it is mind-boggling how much is permitted that we’d never imagine happening here legally.
So, I just mean to give some perspective which I am happy to see in your comments. You guys are not crazy to think this is nuts! Heads would roll here just for suggesting that and in so many European countries as well. “One-size-fits-all” is just no good but even worst if it targets a simple group. Here, targeting a group means to give financial help to them! And if it is negative, then they have law makers and politicians really do something about it. But Canadian law is much faster to move (wow, never thought I’d say that) than American law. And yes, I talk from the perspective of someone who has to go to court to defend my pension but I understand that is another level and separate level of government. Health Canada and the Human Rights of Canada actually acknowledge my conditions and disability rights.
So yes, definitely, never target a group because it makes them feel bad, ashamed and/or they will try to go undercover even more. It just doesn’t work. It dissolves your social unity. That is an even higher cost.
I really hope they vote against this.
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Thank you, Clau! That’s very interesting that to target a group in Canada means to help connect them with better resources, and here it means to take away resources- what a quandary!
Let me explain that in the chronic pain community, there have been government actions taken to cut our resources in order to build on resources for addiction, or to cut chronic disease treatments in the hope addiction disease would improve… of course, sacrificing one illness to help solve another doesn’t work.
I have a close family member who suffered from severe addiction for years, so both of these issues hit very close to home, personally.
My fight is never against the issue of addiction, or to cut addiction resource funding, but to fight for the rights of chronic illness patients rights, those who are dying without proper treatments.
While parents of addicts and former addicts in recovery have been physically able to rise up and fight for their cause, get media coverage, and stop pain medication from being prescribed, chronic pain patients have not been physically able to match their vigorous lobbying, unfortunately.
In the US, addiction disease has the media’s ear, and has the public’s attention for the past decade. Because of that, it’s very important that we find creative ways to give chronic pain patients a voice, however possible. This is not a head-to-head face off of 2 diseases, but we are raising awareness so the public realizes our government’s policies are not helping either party- and are specifically targeting those with degenerative neurological diseases.
It’s so bad that we are not treated in the emergency room because “chronic pain” is thought to be a “drug seeking” or “addiction” behavior instead of an illness.
Everyone needs proper care. Sacrificing one disease to help another is inhumane, and cannot be tolerated. I truly believe that both addiction and chronic pain can be managed simultaneously, but this is not the way!
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I love when there is more to discuss!
Very well said. By this paradigm, we should all pay per ounce for alcohol addiction treatment among other things. We need to keep elevating awareness of legitimate chronic pain conditions like yours and mine among so many others so that people do not assume all with high pain levels are just drug seeking.
I’m so glad I didn’t know how bad Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome could truly get before I fell completely apart four years ago or I might not have managed. I have endured new pain limits and levels I never thought existed. (I felt like I was burning from the inside out.) Alas, most if not all pain is invisible still, so they are left to take our word for this.
I also highly recommend the book “Validate Your Pain” by Drs. Chino and Davis. Really good, helping to expose the misguided way our current US health care system treats chronic pain patients as all drug seekers in the absence of proper diagnosis of their underlying conditions. Meanwhile, millions are left to just suffer because of the few.
But further, addiction is a legitimate disease and needs treatment, just different than that for the rest of us. Hopefully we will all slowly come to our senses about this. Letters like yours will only help, thanks.
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Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Jan!
I’m so very sorry your EDS has stolen so much away from you. EDS, another incurable disorder without successful treatments available, is mysterious and needs stronger awareness and research.
I appreciate you reading and leaving a thought provoking response. I hope you are doing as well as possible this week.
Thank you for sharing and sending such a meaningful, eloquent letter. Definitely a message that needs to be sent and heard!
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Thank you, Kathleen! There are so many human rights issues in medicine I would like to tackle, but this is one place to start. This rep I’ve been writing to this year has started advocating for more disability rights this year, so maybe he is reading them after all! Sometimes one small act can make a bigger difference than we realize! 🙂
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