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November 30, 2016 | Ian Martorana (202-225-3031) | comments

It’s 2016, and our society is saturated with technology more than ever before. From smart phones to smart appliances and everything in between, technological advances have made our lives much more convenient. So why hasn’t innovation in health care kept pace?

Enter the 21st Century Cures Act. This bill will make significant reforms to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other federal agencies with one goal in mind: Getting cures to patients faster.

These aren’t nebulous ideas. These are real changes to help real people. Consider the tens of thousands of cancer patients in southeast Wisconsin alone. The 21st Century Cures Act, in consultation with Vice President Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot,” provides $4.8 billion to NIH to fund research for various diseases, including cancer.

That said, this money will also go to research projects to help medical professionals understand all sorts of neurological diseases, like Alzheimer’s. This investment will spur research, innovation, and entrepreneurship to tackle major medical problems facing our country.

The 21st Century Cures Act includes funding for the FDA to approve drugs and medical devices for patients more quickly, while maintaining the level of safety Americans have come to expect.

For Wisconsinites, opioid and heroin abuse are a serious issue. It is a scourge on our communities. And this bill includes $1 billion for grants to states to fight opioid abuse.

If that wasn’t enough, consider the positive economic impact the 21st Century Cures Act will have on Wisconsin. There are over “6,500 medical device companies in the United States. . . . More than 80 percent of medical device companies have fewer than 50 employees” and many of those small businesses call the Badger State home. Wisconsin’s medical device industry provides thousands of good-paying jobs, manufacturing and exporting billions of dollars’ worth of medical and scientific devices each year.

Also included in this bill is H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, which reforms the nation’s mental health care system. Back in July, Paul praised initial passage of H.R. 2646, saying that “we need to make sure that the people who suffer from mental illness—just like any other patients—get the care and medications they need.” The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act is a much needed step in the right direction.

The bottom line is this: The 21st Century Cures Act is a strong, bipartisan win for Wisconsin, Wisconsinites, and Americans across the country. 
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