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  • Washington Highlights

    House Passes Cures Act

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    The House of Representatives July 10 approved (344-77) the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6). A total of 170 Republicans and 174 Democrats voted for the bill while 70 Republicans and 7 Democrats voted no. The bill reauthorizes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for three years at funding levels that represent an increase of $1.5 billion per year and creates an NIH Innovation Fund supported by $1.75 billion a year in mandatory funding for five years.

    In a statement, AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch, M.D., said the “House vote on the 21st Century Cures Act is a significant step toward improving the lives of millions of Americans affected by serious illnesses and life-threatening diseases.”

    Prior to the vote on final passage, the House defeated (141-281) an amendment offered by Reps. David Brat (R-Va.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) to convert the NIH Innovation Fund from mandatory to discretionary funding. A total of 100 Republicans and 181 Democrats voted against the proposal while 141 Republicans voted in favor. The AAMC opposed this amendment. 

    In a July 9 letter to all House members, the AAMC noted that if the Innovation Fund was converted to discretionary funding, it “would further divert funding for other critical discretionary health programs and activities making it even more difficult to meet America’s growing health challenges in this era of austerity.”

    The House also rejected (176-245), an amendment by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) to strike a provision in the Cures bill that applies any policy riders included in annual spending bills to NIH or Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funds provided in H.R. 6.

    The House also adopted the following amendments by:

    • Reps. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Andy Harris, M.D. (R-Md.), to authorize NIH to conduct a prize program to incentivize health innovation by offering competitors the chance to win a prize for creating breakthrough research and technology;

    • Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), to direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a study to determine how the additional payments are affecting the development of drug resistance;
    • Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), to ensure underrepresented individuals, such as women and minorities, are included in the Supporting Young Emerging Scientists Report; and 
    • Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), expressing a sense of Congress that recording Unique Device Identifiers at the point-of-care in electronic health record systems could significantly enhance the availability of medical device data for post-market surveillance purposes.
    • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct outreach to Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Hispanic Serving Institutions; Native American Colleges; and rural Colleges to ensure that health professionals from underrepresented populations are aware of research opportunities under the legislation.