21st Century Cures Act Signed into Law
January 4, 2017
On December 13, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law. The law is a $6.3 billion omnibus health bill that includes $4.8 billion in funding for several major NIH medical research initiatives. It also funds opioid addiction prevention and treatment grants and makes some reforms to FDA regulations. A breakdown of funding includes:
- $1.8 billion for cancer research via Vice President's National Cancer Moonshot
- $1.5 billion for the BRAIN Initiative, which seeks to map the human brain in order to help identify treatments for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's & Parkinson's
- $1.4 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative, which collects genetic data from 1 million volunteers in order to develop personalized medical care for people with genetic disorders
- $1 billion to fight the opioid addiction crisis via new state grants for drug abuse prevention & treatment programs
This Act also reforms the administrative structure of SAMHSA in several ways. It transfers the duties of the SAMHSA Administrator to the holder of a new post, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. The Assistant Secretary will be appointed by the HHS Secretary and will be subject to confirmation by the Senate. The bill's administrative reforms also include the creation of a Chief Medical Officer within SAMHSA, who will advise the Assistant Secretary on promoting evidence-based practices.
While AUCD supports the Act's funding of major research into cancer, rare genetic conditions, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and efforts to combat opioid addiction, there are some concerns with that most of the funding will come at the expense of cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Also, Congress will have to approve funding every year as it is not designated as mandatory funding.