In a follow-up to a blog we wrote last week, the Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act designed to boost funding for research and fast-track FDA drug approvals. The most robust piece of healthcare related legislation since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) now goes to President Obama to sign into law…..which the President has said he will do.
The Cures Act provides for a large increase in funds for boosting biomedical research and also takes aim at speeding up drug and medical device approvals through the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
As expected, other items are also placed inside this bill such as funding for Opioid abuse as well as a program to better treat mental illness as well as research funding for ObamaCare—making it very likely that President Obama will sign the measure that contains 6.8 billion dollars in funding now that it has also been approved by the Senate.
The bill also provides money for the “cancer moonshot” championed by Vice President Joe Biden to encourage innovative research in that field.
The soon-to-be law received overwhelming bipartisan support. According to the New York Times, “In recent years, few major bills have commanded as much support as the 21st Century Cures Act, which sailed to passage by votes of 392 to 26 in the House on Nov. 30, and 94 to 5 in the Senate a week later.”
An NPR.com story calls the 21st Century Cures Act “the most significant piece of mental health legislation since the 2008 law requiring equal insurance coverage for mental and physical health.”
“The bill includes provisions aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic, strengthens laws mandating parity for mental and physical health
care and includes grants to increase the number of psychologists and psychiatrists, who are in short supply across the country.
It also would push states to provide early intervention for psychosis, a treatment program that has been hailed as one of the most promising mental health developments in decades.”
However, the bill is not without its critics. Forbes Magazine wrote, “Legislators like Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon recently warned that Cures amounts to a big pharma giveaway which will weaken regulatory standards on drugs, provide a mere pittance to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and do nothing to confront the rising tide of high drug prices. They point to the fact that the $4.8 billion in NIH funding included in Cures must be re-authorized every year, and that drug approvals which can be based on “real-world” patient outcomes (rather than rigorous clinical trials) could actually endanger patients.”
Now that it appears the 21st Century Cures Act is about to become law – we’d love to hear what you think about it. How will it affect our state and the people who live here? Will it make a difference? If it does help drive better health, that will go a long way toward helping us reach our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!