A couple of important developments broke in Congress yesterday evening after we sent the NABR Update to our members. The "21st Century Cures Act" passed in the House of Representatives and Congress is expected to adopt a long-term stopgap spending bill to fund the federal government. Read more details below.
Landmark Healthcare Reform Bill Passes House
Last night, the “21st Century Cures Act” passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 392-26. The bipartisan omnibus health care package was first introduced in May 2015 by Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) and consists of measures to expedite and improve research for lifesaving cures. It also includes reforms for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Medicare, Medicaid, mental health and other health care issues. Most notably, the act will provide $4.796 billion of funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) between FYs 2017 and 2026.
Highlights of the bill include:
- $30 million to expand clinical research for regenerative medicine using adult stem cells, between FYs 2017 and 2020
- $1.8 billion for cancer research, between FYs 2017 and 2023
- $1.455 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative, between FYs 2017 and 2026
- $1.511 billion for Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative, between FYs 2017 and 2026
“21st Century Cures is the innovation game-changer that patients, their loved ones, and the nation’s researchers and scientists so desperately need. The White House has expressed its enthusiastic endorsement of this critical legislation. So it’s now on to the Senate, where we are just one final vote away from delivering #CuresNow,” said Upton and Diana DeGette in a press release by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The next step for the bill is a vote in the Senate, which is expected to pass the bill without amendment early next week.
Long-Term Spending Bill Inevitable
Additionally, it is now expected that Congress will adopt a new longer-term stopgap spending bill. Although, according to the Hill, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently stated that Congress prefers a short-term Appropriations bill to fund the government into President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, Congress is simply running out of time to complete action. Yesterday, Republicans in the House and Senate contended that a new longer-term Continuing Resolution (CR) stretching into at least April will be inevitable because of the Senate’s tight schedule, which will include important votes confirming President-elect Trump’s Cabinet members. Congress has until next week (December 9), when the current CR expires, to approve the new long-term CR.