On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act. The bipartisan legislation is expected to accelerate the development of new medical treatments, cut red tape for biomedical innovation, and improve community mental health services.
The bill’s cosponsor, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema stated in a press release, “Too many American families have watched their loved ones struggle with diseases that have no cure,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “The 21st Century Cures Act is a creative, bipartisan solution that allows innovators to focus on life-saving discoveries, rather than government bureaucracy. This health reform legislation is the type of commonsense solution that will lead to lower cost and better quality care for Arizona families.”
According to Sinema, “The 21st Century Cures Act modernizes research programs at the National Institute of Health and the drug approval process at the Food and Drug Administration to accelerate bringing cures to market while protecting patients. This legislation promotes promising medical breakthroughs to address some of our most costly health challenges including, $1.8 billion for the cancer “moonshot” program, $1 billion over two years to combat the opioid epidemic, and $1.6 billion for brain-related diseases like Alzheimer’s. The bill also restructures behavior health programs to improve the quality of care delivered to individuals facing mental health crises.”
The legislation includes provisions Rep. Martha McSally sponsored. McSally stated that the provisions are intended “to help communities better respond to mental health crises and provide better treatment options for families and individuals struggling with mental illness. These provisions were the result of months of hard work and the bipartisan support of a diverse group of lawmakers and organizations, including mental health advocates and law enforcement. Today’s landmark bill also overhauls our mental health system for the first time in 50 years. I’m proud to see these important reforms pass the House and will continue to work to get them passed in the Senate and signed into law.”
Heritage Action opposed the 21st Century Cures Act. The organization noted on its website, “Now Congress has taken this legislation, which was initially a 300 page bill, and turned it into an almost 1,000 page omnibus health care spending bill. The negotiators have added pieces of a mental health bill, makes changes to Medicare Part A and B, another bill making significant changes to the federal foster care system, a “cancer moonshot” requested by Vice President Biden, additional funding for opioid abuse prevention, etc., in addition to the NIH funding and the FDA funding, for a grand total of over $6.3 billion dollars. In Washington terms, backroom negotiators have turned the Cures bill into a Christmas Tree, loaded with handouts for special interests, all at the expense of the taxpayer. Therefore, conservatives should oppose the 21st Century Cures Bill for four main reasons.”