Senate Passes Bill Boosting Medical Research and Innovation

Today U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released the following statement after voting in favor of the 21st Century Cures Act:

“This legislation tackles crucial health concerns for Alaskans – providing tools for mental health treatment, fighting the opioid epidemic, and addressing the disproportionally high risk of suicide among Alaska Natives. Not only that, but it will increase opportunities for lifesaving medical research. Today’s bill provides hope for families grappling with devastating diseases, and will bolster medical innovation for years to come.

“Although I agree with the overall goals of this legislation, I remain steadfastly opposed to how it’s being funded. I have consistently maintained that proceeds from the sale of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve should be directed toward improving our nation’s energy security – not to be used for unrelated legislative initiatives. Tapping into our emergency energy stockpiles yet again is a short-sighted decision and simply the wrong approach.”

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 94-5 and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. 

Details of the 21st Century Cures Act:

  • Research and Innovation:
    • Supports National Institute of Health research programs including the Precision Medicine Initiative, the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, the Cancer Moonshot, and regenerative medicine.
    • Directs funds to the Food and Drug Administration for the research and development of drugs and medical devices.
    • Advances new therapies to help improve treatment access for rare diseases, including pediatrics.
    • Addresses the concerns with the rising rates of antibiotic-resistant bugs.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health:
    • Directs $1 billion to states for opioid prevention and treatment activities, including provisions included within the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
    • Reauthorizes several grants, such as the Community Mental Health Block Grant and the Substance Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.
    • Supports training for law enforcement officers who encounter individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders.
    • Prioritizes suicide prevention programs for American Indians and Alaska Native youth.
    • Reauthorizes the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act for suicide prevention programs.
    • Establishes a grant program for states to improve and maintain postpartum depression treatment programs.
  • Rural Hospitals:

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