Keith Wailoo, Townsend Martin Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University, is the author of Dying in the City of the Blues: Sickle Cell Anemia and the Politics of Race and Health. He is completing a book on the politics of pain relief.
Hundreds of pages into the Affordable Care Act lies Section 4305, "Advancing research and treatment for pain care management." Amid the partisan waves lashing at "Obama-care," this provision for pain care stands out as a tiny bipartisan island. But those unfamiliar with the troubled history of pain relief may not realize that a bipartisan consensus even on this provision was an accomplishment. And they may wonder why the legislation deals with pain care at all.