MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) -- Millions of people live with pain and an advocacy group in Connecticut is leading the charge to improve their quality of life: one state at a time.
The Middletown-based U.S. Pain Foundation sponsors it.
"I started it because I couldn't find the resources I needed," said Paul Gileno, Founder of U.S. Pain Foundation.
Gileno founded the non-profit after breaking his back and facing a lifelong journey of managing his pain.
"How I dealt with it was helping others," he said.
Thanks to legislation he helped to pass, Gileno and other pain patients can now get the medication prescribed by doctors without insurance companies intervening.
"Basically what doctors do is prescribe the best treatment for the patient," Gileno. "The insurance companies say no, we don't believe that's the best. We want you to fail on this medication first."
That fight empowered Wendy Foster to testify before state lawmakers.
"It's just more painful, more than you have to deal with before you finally get help and sometimes because you have been delayed, you need more medication than you would have originally," Foster said.
Now, the foundation is leading the charge to get other states to pass similar legislation.
"It's a big problem throughout the country," Gileno said. "It's like a tier process where they give you a less and more expensive medication first and we say that's not fair at all, especially for a person in pain."
People like Foster prefer to limit their medication.
"My average daily pain is probably eight to nine," she said. "It's progressive, we don't know what it is."
Dealing with a neuro-muscular disorder, she prefers to focus more on her service dog Tippy and volunteering for the foundation.
"You have the choice of saying woe is me or getting out doing something," she said.
Foster is part of the national push, so others will get the prescribed 'pain' drugs as recommended by their doctor.
Connecticut was the first state to pass that law for pain patients. The focus has already begun to get states like New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire to do the same thing.
Eventually, Gileno says he wants to expand the Connecticut law to cover 'all' patients.
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