Keith Wailoo

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.

Recent Articles

Can Reform Spell Relief?

A long search for a national "pain care" policy yields a modest step in public health.

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. For decades, pain relief has been a vexing problem for patients, practitioners, and policy-makers. More than 50 million adults suffer frequent, and often disabling, chronic pain, and millions of others experience severe pain from migraines, fibromyalgia, cancer, and other conditions. Overcoming the difficulties those patients encounter in the health-care system as well as misconceptions and fears among the public at large has become an important policy challenge. In the United States, pain medicine has also been politically...