The Landmark: The 21st Century Cures Act becomes Law!

After more than a year of bipartisan negotiations, Tuesday, December 13th, President Obama signed one of the most lobbied bills in recent history into law. Both sides have come to an agreement that is intended to benefit medical and behavioral health. The Senate passed the bill Wednesday December 7th by a vote of 94-5, and the House passed an almost identical version on Dec. 1, 392-26.

The 21st Century Cures Act will allocate $4.8 billion dollars to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for medical projects such as brain research as well as Vice President Biden’s efforts against cancer in memory of his late son, Beau. The allocation includes:

  • $1.8 billion for the cancer research “moonshot”;
  • $1.56 billion for the BRAIN Initiative, a project to create new technologies that will allow for comprehensive mapping of the human brain; and
  • $1.4 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative, a project supported by President Obama to collect genetic data on one million American volunteers that will be used to help develop new treatments.

The nation’s prescription drug abuse crisis also is addressed in the legislation. States will receive grants worth $1 billion over the next two years for drug abuse prevention and treatment programs. The bill authorizes the NIH to finance high-risk, high-reward research using special procurement procedures, rather than through conventional grants and contracts, The New York Times reports. The agency also will establish “Eureka prize” competitions to advance medical research.

The Food and Drug Administration will be allowed to expedite the approval of new drugs. While somewhat controversial during negotiations, both sides agreed that safety will be maintained.

There are positive impacts for the Mental Health industry. One billion dollars will be dedicated to the fight against the opioid addiction epidemic.  Mental Health will also benefit when an assistant secretary and a chief medical officer are appointed in the Department of Mental Health and Human Services. Grants for suicide prevention and rules directed toward the insurance companies for covering Mental Health services are also key points.

From Beckers Health IT and CIO Review: Ten Key points about the 21st Century Cures Act