21st Century Cures Act heads to Barack Obama’s desk

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Congress has approved the first major mental health legislation in nearly a decade Wednesday. The 21st Century Cures Act, which overhauls the development of medical treatments and cures, is likely to be one of the final pieces of legislation President Barack Obama will sign into law before he leaves office next month.

The Senate voted 94-5 on Wednesday to approve the bill, following the House’s passage (344-77) just last week.

The 21st Century Cures Act improves:

  • Discovery: by providing the NIH with fully offset funding to advance the Precision Medicine Initiative to drive research into the genetic, lifestyle, and environmental variations of disease; speed up cancer research; and invest in the BRAIN initiative to improve our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s.
  • Development: by turning 21st Century scientific advancement and research into FDA-approved treatments and cures through modernizing clinical trials; putting patients at the center of the regulatory review process; streamlining regulations to foster innovation in health care software and mobile medical apps; incentivizing pediatric drug development and empowering the FDA to be more flexible in reviewing medical devices and technologies; and providing the FDA with $500 million for regulatory modernization and enable the agency to recruit the best scientists, doctors, and engineers.
  • Delivery: by ensuring new drugs and devices are given to the right patients at the right time through ensuring that electronic health record systems seamlessly operate for best patient care; facilitating seniors’ access to the latest medical technology; and improving education for health care providers.
  • Mental Health Care: by coordinating mental health programs across the federal government; establishing the National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Lab to drive evidence-based grants to help states combat addiction and abuse; clarifying HIPAA communication rules among providers, families, and patients to improve treatment; and strengthening our nation’s mental health workforce.

Here’s how the Alabama delegation voted and what they had to say about the bill:

Richard Shelby yes voteSen. Richard Shelby:

America has long been the world’s leader in medical innovation and it is important that we modernize, personalize, and streamline our health care delivery system to ensure that it meets the demands of today.  For the millions of Americans suffering from a serious illness such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, cutting-edge research is the beginning of hope for them and their loved ones. 

I have always been a strong proponent of ensuring that we appropriately support first-rate medical innovation and research initiatives for the next generation of treatments and cures. The 21st Century Cures Act will not only foster needed changes in our health care infrastructure, but it also takes critical steps to fight our nation’s growing opioid epidemic and strengthen our mental health programs. It is great news for the American people that both the House and Senate have passed this bipartisan legislation.

Bradley Byrne_YesAlabama 1st District U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne:

I think the 21st Century Cures Act may end up being the most important bill passed by Congress over the last few years. In addition to helping boost medical research, the bill also dedicates resources to mental health reform and fighting our nation’s opioid crisis. I outline why I supported this bold legislation in my column this week.

Martha Roby_YesAlabama 2nd District U.S. Rep. Martha Roby:

The 21st Century Cures Act fosters innovation in medical technology and research, eliminates regulations that hinder competition, provides resources to combat the growing opioid epidemic, ensures critical support for those struggling with mental health issues, and rightfully reforms Medicare and Medicaid to reduce overpayments and provide reimbursements. The bill improves medical treatment discovery, development, and delivery for those who need it most.

Mike Rogers_Yes

Alabama 3rd District U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers:

No comment given at this time.

Robert Aderholt_YesAlabama 4th District U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt:

No comment given at this time.

Mo Brooks_NoAlabama 5th District U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks:

No comment given at this time.

Gary Palmer_YesAlabama 6th District U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer:

No comment given at this time.

Terri Sewell_YesAlabama 7th District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell:

From the biomedical research community in Birmingham to my constituents who live with rare diseases and hospitals who serve a disproportionate share of low-income patients, all Alabamians will benefit from implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act. I am particularly pleased that the bill includes critical support for rural health care, regulatory relief for Long-Term Acute Care and Critical Access Hospitals, and increased funding for cutting-edge biomedical research. In addition, the bill provides substantial relief from readmission penalties to Alabama’s hospitals, the majority of which serve a disproportionate share of low-income patients.