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Pallone Praises Senate Passage of Major Health Legislation

December 7, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement praising the Senate for passing H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act by a vote of 94 to 5.  Last week, Pallone led Democratic efforts to pass the legislation through the House and President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law later this month. The 21st Century Cures Act will advance medical research, fund the fight to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic and further efforts towards mental health reform.

“With Senate passage today of the 21st Century Cures Act, we are one step closer to new treatments and cures for some of the most debilitating and life-threatening diseases that afflict millions of Americans.  This legislation provides billions of dollars in funding for Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative, research to increase our understanding and treatment of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and traumatic brain injury, and grants for states and communities hard-hit by the opioid abuse crisis.  It also includes important reforms to our broken mental health system and provides more kids inpatient psychiatric treatment through Medicaid. 

“Over the last six months, we worked in a bipartisan fashion to craft this final bill that has now passed the House and Senate.  I commend Senators Alexander and Murray for their steadfast commitment to getting this bill to the Senate floor, and for today’s strong, bipartisan result.”

The 21st Century Cures Act will designate over $6 billion to implement cutting-edge health initiatives.

  • $1 billion will be allocated to fighting the opioid epidemic, which will expand access to treatment for the over 256,000 New Jersey residents who are suffering from opioid and heroin addiction.
  • $1.8 billion to support the Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot.  The Moonshot aims to accelerate research efforts and make new therapies available to more patients, while also improving our ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.
  • $1.5 billion is designated for the BRAIN Initiative that finds new ways to treat, cure, and prevent brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.
  • $1.5 billion over 10 years for the Precision Medicine Initiative, which was launched by President Barack Obama in 2015, which will help researchers develop medicines tailored to individuals, rather than one-size-fits-all treatments. 
  • $500 million to the FDA over 10 years to foster innovation and to help implement numerous provisions in the bill intended to improve FDA’s medical product review in order to expedite patient access to important drugs and medical devices.

The legislation also includes bipartisan mental health reforms.  These include expanding access to mental health services for children through Medicaid, renewed emphasis on evidence-based strategies for treating serious mental illness, improved coordination between primary care and behavioral health services, reauthorization of important programs focused on suicide prevention and other prevention services.