POSITIVE NEWS FROM THE HEALTHCARE COMMITTEE
By Nancy Gau, Chair of Healthcare Committee
In case you missed it in the news this past fall, both the U.S. Senate and House overwhelmingly passed the 21 Century Cures Act (H.R.6). It was signed into law on Dec. 13, 2016.
This $6.3 billion measure is the product of years of healthcare policy debate and is a huge bipartisan victory for medical research.
More Funding for Cancer Research
Among many other things, this legislation will boost federal research efforts to combat cancer, including $1.8 billion in funding for Vice President Joe Biden’s “cancer moonshot” initiative. Biden, who lost his son to brain cancer in 2015, has spent the past year traveling to leading cancer centers in support of this bill, in an effort to better understand where the needs are.
More Funding for Mental Health Issues
The bill will also address problems in the nation’s mental health systems and how to better streamline its approach to cures. (It will strengthen the enforcement of the mental health parity law which requires insurers to cover mental illnesses.)
Funding to Tackle Opioid Drug Abuse
Last, but certainly not least, the bill will also fund additional efforts to tackle the now widespread problem of opioid drug abuse in this country. (It provides $1 billion over two years to fight opioid abuse, including expanding access to treatment programs.)
Bill Not Without Problems
Although portions of the act are somewhat controversial (due to regulatory changes regarding drugs and medical devices) it is hoped that the research alone will save many, many lives and we wish it much success.