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Woman testifies to Congress on opioids, chronic pain from a cot

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By Frank Thorp V and Jane C. Timm

WASHINGTON — A woman with a severe chronic pain condition testified before Congress from a cot set up in the hearing room on Tuesday, calling for more research and a smarter approach to pain management amid efforts to curb opioid abuse.

“The opioid crisis has only underscored our failure to provide adequate, safe, accessible treatment options for pain relief,” Cindy Steinberg, the national director of policy and advocacy at the U.S. Pain Foundation, told members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Steinberg was injured more than 18 years ago at her workplace, when a stack of unsecured filing cabinets and cubicle walls fell on her. The accident left her with a chronic condition that makes it difficult for her to be upright for more than a couple hours at a time without severe pain and muscle spasms.

A woman testifies from a cot at Senate hearing on managing pain during the opioid crisis on Feb. 12, 2019.Frank Thorp V / NBC News

Steinberg launched a support group in the wake of her injury and advocates on behalf of those with chronic pain conditions.

Chronic pain affects 50 million Americans, and is the leading cause of long-term disability, a copy of her planned testimony notes, but efforts to contain the opioid epidemic have damaged care plans and punished chronic pain sufferers.

“In the near term, we can and must restore balance to opioid prescribing with de-politicized, rational and clear-eyed recognition of the risks and benefits of these medications,” she said, according to her prepared remarks. “In the long term, we must invest in the discovery of new, effective, and safer options for people living with pain.”



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Brexit as risk: The FOUR scenarios we could see in the coming months

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BREXIT has been delayed for a second time, with the date now set for the UK to depart the EU on October 31. But what this could mean is anything but clear.

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BREXHAUSTION: Health warning issued due to Brexit stress

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THE UK’s gruelling departure from the EU is stressing voters out so much it has sparked a new condition dubbed ‘Brexhaustion’.

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Retaliating against Democrats, Trump considering dumping migrants in ‘sanctuary cities’

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 / Updated 

By Hallie Jackson, Jacob Soboroff, Geoff Bennett and Alex Johnson

President Donald Trump said Friday he is “giving strong” consideration to a plan to bus detained immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities as a way to retaliate against Democrats.

The president said he was weighing the idea because Democrats had blocked his efforts to change the country’s “very dangerous immigration laws.”

The president’s statement came after a former Department of Homeland Security official said the plan, first reported by The Washington Post on Thursday night, was ultimately scrapped when it was determined to be “so illegal.” A White House official who confirmed the broad outlines of the proposal Friday morning pushed back on the idea that it was meant as retaliation toward political rivals, however, calling that “absolutely ridiculous.”

The official insisted the White House had never pressured Immigration and Customs Enforcement to put the plan in motion, but simply floated it to officials at the agency.

DHS on Thursday night told NBC News the proposal had been “a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.”

The White House official confirmed the idea came up twice — initially as a query to ICE about the possibility, and later to inquire why it wouldn’t be legally doable. Matthew Albence, who starts Friday as acting head of ICE, was involved in the assessment of the plan and the ultimate conclusion that it would not be feasible.

The Post quoted DHS officials as saying the administration sought to release detainees in the San Francisco-based district of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and in other strongly Democratic districts. It said the White House told ICE that the plan was partly meant to conserve jail space but also partly to “send a message to Democrats.”

A source familiar with the plan told NBC News it was designed to “somehow hurt Pelosi.”

Another source, the former DHS official, told NBC News of the Trump administration’s thinking: “Why release [migrants] into Yuma or Phoenix when you can release them in San Francisco where they want them?”

“The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” a spokeswoman for Pelosi told NBC News. “Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable.”

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller at a Republican dinner in Columbus, Ohio, in August.Leah Millis / Reuters file

The Post reported that two DHS whistleblowers independently reported the busing plan to Congress and that several DHS officials confirmed their accounts. Two DHS officials said Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser who is widely reported to have assumed control of U.S. border policy, discussed the proposal with ICE, according to The Post.



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