Since the 1950s, significant advances in the treatment of pain have resulted in greater relief for an increasing number of patients. However, the quality of pain care delivery in the United States continues to fall remarkably short of the current potential for optimal care. Pain medicine remains fragmented, and the absence of a unified organizational model of pain medicine hinders the effective provision of an integrated, cost-effective pain care, causing unnecessary and avoidable human suffering and societal expense. These consequences of fragmented care are unacceptable and threaten patient safety and well-being. Effective treatment of persistent pain requires the highest level of clinical reasoning, selectively coordinated medical skills, the strategic use of resources, and the orchestration of diverse areas of medical expertise. In order to close the gap between existing care and the potential for optimal pain care, significant institutional barriers to this goal must be addressed. To this end, the following position paper describes the history and context of this challenge, proposes recommendations to harness the collective abilities and knowledge within the discipline of pain medicine, and calls upon organized medicine to take action on behalf of patients and for the public health.