The U.S. Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act on Dec. 7 with strong bipartisan support, sending the legislation to president Barack Obama for final approval.
“While the bill is not perfect, it is a balanced compromise that will help us improve our nation’s health system and enhance patient outcomes,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) in a prepared statement. He was among the majority of senators approving the bill in a 94-5 vote.
The bill has been worked on in Congress since 2015 is considered the most comprehensive healthcare legislation since the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The wide-ranging legislation will impact issues from the ease at which the Food and Drug Administration can approve medial treatments to increased funding for the National Institute of Health to fight chronic diseases and mental health conditions.
The bill also aids communities in Virginia and across the country struggling with heroin and opiate abuse, which Warner and House representative Barbara Comstock (R – Virginia 10th) both praised.
“The 21st Century Cures Act is a game changer in medical innovation in the fight for cures of chronic diseases,” Comstock said in a statement following the 392-26 passage of the bill by the House on Nov. 30. “This legislation will help the United States lead the way in medical research and brings hope to patients with cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions as we fight to find new cures.”
Comstock, whose district includes all of Loudoun County, has been an outspoken proponent of the bill. She said the bill will help the Inova Schar Cancer Institute in Falls Church continue to be a world leader in research. The bill will also help fund $1 billion against the rising influence of heroin and opiod abuse, which was declared a Public Health Emergency in Virginia.
“Fighting addiction requires an all-of-the-above approach and we have talked to medical professionals, healthcare providers, and law enforcement, among others in our region, to better target our response to opioid abuse,” Comstock said. “This legislation is another powerful tool in this ongoing battle.”
In an interview earlier this year with the Loudoun Tribune, Comstock said the funding will make huge strides in biomedical technology that can help cure some of the nation’s most deadly diseases.
“Unfortunately, I have too many friends that are out there battling cancer or dying it. But people who are in that and know in the medical field say we really are on the cusp of some really exciting innovations,” Comstock told the Tribune. “Those are the kind of things that are real in our lifetime that will save billions of dollars.”