Washington, D.C. – In a unified effort to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of new treatments and cures for diseases, yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives and Alaska Congressman Don Young overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Act. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation – which passed the House by a vote of 392 to 26 – makes significant reforms, increases to funding, and advancements necessary to modernize the nation’s management of new healthcare innovations and infrastructure.
“Medical innovation and progress in this nation has seen remarkable progress in recent years, yet thousands of American families are still faced with the harsh realities and hardships of debilitating and incurable diseases,” said Congressman Don Young. “This important legislation – aimed at increasing the pace of discovery, development and delivery of life-saving and life-improving therapies, treatments and medications – is an important step to bringing our medical innovations and solutions into the 21st Century. Not only does this bill take critical steps to combat the nation’s growing opioid epidemic, it also places an important emphasis on mental health. I commend my colleagues for including the 5-year extension for the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program – utilized in Alaska by hospitals in Juneau, Soldotna and Sitka – and encourage the Senate to move this legislation across the finish line.”
The multi-faceted package of reforms represents a year’s long effort in Congress to update the out-of-date process for bringing new drug therapies and treatments to market, in addition to maintaining the nation’s status as a leader in biomedical innovation. The bill will:
- Help bring drugs and devices to market efficiently by making needed reforms to the FDA, including: expedited review for breakthrough devices, increased patient involvement in the drug approval process, and a streamlined review process for combination products that are both a drug and device.
- Provide $4.8 billion to National Institutes of Health, including: $1.4 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative to drive research into the genetic, lifestyle and environmental variations of disease; $1.8 billion for the "Cancer Moonshot” to speed research; and $1.6 billion for the BRAIN initiative to improve our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer's and speed diagnosis and treatment.
- Provides $500 million to the Food and Drug Administration.
- Provides $1 billion in grants to states to address the opioid crisis.
- Advance meaningful mental health reforms aimed at assisting the one in five American adults currently suffering from mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
Importantly, the 21st Century Cures package included language from legislation introduced by Congressman Don Young – H.R. 672, the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Extension Act. The language extends the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program (RCH), which has helped stabilize essential health services in rural Alaska and 10 other states, and allowed seniors to receive the care they need closer to home. For more information on the RCH, click here.