Lawmakers Pass Landmark Health Legislation
Dec 09, 2016
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) speaks at Spotlight Health in 2015.
The 21st Century Cures Act passed its final hurdle before becoming law this week. On Wednesday the US Senate approved the legislation that will speed new medicines to market and allocate millions of dollars for disease research.
The legislation is the result of three years of work. At Spotlight Health, two of the bill’s key sponsors — Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) — explained how they traveled the country holding hearings, exploring university research, talking to the pharmaceutical industry, and visiting with patients. “We said, ‘What is it that we can do to expedite the approval of drugs and devices, be patient-centered, and really set the stage for where we want to go?’” The result of their efforts was the Cures Act, which gained bipartisan support and strong backing from President Obama.
The legislation increases funding for the National Institutes of Health, or NIH. According to the New York Times, the Cures Act gives the agency the “authority to finance high-risk, high-reward research using special procurement procedures, as opposed to more conventional grants and contracts.” It also “requires the agency’s director to establish ‘Eureka prize’ competitions to advance biomedical research and improve treatments for serious illnesses.” Rep. Degette says, when writing the bill, there was an emphasis on using modern technology — like electronic medical records — to advance medical research. “We tried to find ways to break down barriers to doing exciting research in the 21st century.”
By Marci Krivonen, Associate Editor/Producer, Public Programs