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  • Washington Highlights

    Senate Approves 21st Century Cures Package, Sending the Medical Innovation Measure to the President

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

    The Senate Dec. 7 overwhelmingly approved, by a vote of 94-5, the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34), sending the bill to President Obama for his signature.

    The House of Representatives Nov. 30 approved the bill, which includes new funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as mental health provisions and other hospital and health care provisions [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 2].

    The House-approved continuing resolution (CR), which the Senate is expected to pass on Dec. 9, provides $872 million, fully funding the “Cures” bill in fiscal year (FY) 2017. Specifically, the bill provides $352 million to support NIH research efforts, $500 million for state opioid response efforts, and $20 million to streamline regulations at the FDA.

    Following the Senate’s passage of the bill, President Obama said, “We are now one step closer to ending cancer as we know it, unlocking cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s, and helping people seeking treatment for opioid addiction finally get the help they need.”

    AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch, MD, sent letters to both House and Senate leaders strongly supporting the bill, commending both committee and Congressional leaders for “recognizing the importance of sustained investments in medical research” and “taking important steps to address the administrative burden on researchers.” Dr. Kirch also expressed support for the bill’s provisions that address “the role of socioeconomic status (SES) in the Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP)” and clarify that “off-campus teaching hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) under development should continue to receive Medicare outpatient payment rates.”