AAPM&R Joins New AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force in Urging Action to Help Patients

Members & Publications


September 28, 2021

The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) and the American Medical Association released new recommendations today as part of the AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force to help end the nation’s drug-related overdose and death epidemic.

The recommendations are focused on actions physicians can take as well as those policymakers and public health officials must take. This includes broad efforts to remove barriers and improve access to evidence-based care for patients with pain, a substance use disorder (SUD) or mental illness, as well as increase access to multiple harm reduction strategies. The new Task Force also will work to more directly address the changing drug overdose epidemic, focus on removing racial, gender, sexual orientation and other health-related inequities.

“The nation’s physicians must continue to lead by example to help our patients with pain, SUDs and mental illness,” said Task Force Chair Bobby Mukkamala, MD. “But removing barriers requires more stakeholders to join us. This new Task Force is making clear the opportunity we have to reduce mortality and improve outcomes, but we also will be clear with policymakers that failure to adopt our recommendations will prolong the epidemic and our patients’ suffering.”

“As a physiatrist who provides pain management, I understand the importance of advocating that our patients have access to comprehensive personalized care that includes appropriate multi-disciplinary, multi-modal evidence-based treatments. The recommendations of this Task Force will help policymakers establish policies that properly balance the needs of individuals with substance use disorder and other mental illnesses with the needs of those suffering from painful conditions impacting function and quality of life”

Ameet Nagpal, M.D., MS.,

AAPM&R Representative to the AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force

Physiatrists, and all physicians, must lead by continuing to take action to improve opioid prescribing practices, helping prevent opioid use disorder, and providing evidence-based, compassionate care for patients in pain.

Highlights of the recommendations include:

  • Support patients with pain, mental illness or a substance use disorder (SUD) by building an evidence-based, sustainable and resilient infrastructure and health care workforce rather than continuing a crisis-driven approach that has led to multiple unintended negative consequences, including one-size-fits-all strategies, continued stigma and widespread gaps in data, evidence-based treatment, and prevention efforts.
  • Support coverage for, access to, and payment of comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, multi-modal evidence-based treatment for patients with pain, a substance use disorder or mental illness. Additionally, coverage, access and payment should directly address racial, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic and economic inequities as well as social determinants of health. This includes removing barriers to evidence-based treatment for SUDs, co-occurring mental illness and pain.
  • Broaden public health and harm reduction strategies to save lives from overdose, limit the spread of infectious disease, eliminate stigma and reduce harms for people who use drugs and other substances.
  • Improve stakeholder and multi-sector collaboration in an effort to ensure that the patients, policymakers, employers, and communities benefit from evidence-based decisions.

Read the full Task Force recommendations.

Member organizations in the AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force

  • American Medical Association
  • American Osteopathic Association
  • American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • American Academy of Neurology
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Academy of Pain Medicine
  • American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons
  • American College of Emergency Physicians
  • American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
  • American College of Physicians
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Arkansas Medical Society
  • California Medical Association
  • Maine Medical Association
  • Massachusetts Medical Society
  • Medical Society of the State of New York
  • New Mexico Medical Society
  • Ohio State Medical Association
  • Oregon Medical Association
  • Utah Medical Association




Legislation Introduced to Alleviate Impact of Conversion Factor Cut for 2021

Nov 09, 2020

Last month, two bills were introduced in the House proposing solutions to the estimated 10.6% Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor cut expected to go into effect January 1, 2021.  The bills offer some relief to the cut, but do not reflect a comprehensive or long-term solution.  AAPM&R has therefore chosen to remain neutral regarding these bills. 

Your Academy continues to advocate for a permanent solution to the conversion factor cut while maintaining the important payment increases to office and outpatient evaluation and management services.