21st Century Cures: A real plan for our national health


In 2015, I lost my friend Judy Warren to pancreatic cancer. Just a few days after her death, I proudly cast my vote in support of 21st Century Cures in her honor, and in honor of the millions of loved ones who are lost each year to conditions, like cancer, that 21st Century Cures strives to treat and cure.

Unfortunately, like many of the treatments and cures waiting for approval or stalled by burdensome regulations, 21st Century Cures has languished since then, along with much-needed reforms to our mental health care system, provisions to strengthen and enhance our readiness for biological threats, and desperately sought after resources for states to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic.

{mosads}Today, nearly 18 months after Judy’s death, 21st Century Cures is once again on the House floor for consideration as part of a package along with these other critical reforms. It is fully offset, represents a real plan to deal with these challenges to our national health, and keeps our country on the cutting edge of medical innovation. This time, we must make sure that this transformational package is enacted into law.

By the end of 2016, nearly 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States alone. Nearly 40 percent of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Today, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with a rare disease.

21st Century Cures is a real plan to encourage scientific collaboration to find cures faster and ensure that once these life-saving treatments are discovered, there is a modern, streamlined process for developing them and delivering them to patients, like the more than 37 million people diagnosed with cancer, Alzheimer’s and other rare diseases that I mentioned above.

One in five Americans struggle with mental illness. Even those who seek treatment can’t get the care they need because mental health resources are lacking and our mental health care system is broken. 

21st Century Cures is a real plan to reform our mental health care system. It will help ensure that people struggling with mental illness will get appropriate care and treatment before a crisis occurs, and that their families and loved ones can be partners in helping to combat the very serious and sometimes dangerous results of mental illness.

Reports that ISIS is taking steps towards chemical and biological weapons are especially troubling considering that if a disease like smallpox were weaponized and released in America, one in three people infected would die. 

21st Century Cures is a real plan to streamline and improve our readiness for a biological threat, like smallpox, by incentivizing the development and testing of vaccines for chemical and biological threats and ensuring that appropriate vaccines can be added to our existing national stockpile in case of an attack.

More Americans are dying of drug overdoses than car crashes today. Heroin and opioid abuse is overburdening our child welfare systems, crippling newborn babies with addiction, and impacting our veterans at alarming rates.

21st Century Cures is a real plan that provides states with much needed resources to address the heroin and opioid epidemic in our communities.

Today, my vote for 21st Century Cures is inspired and driven not only by Judy, but also by the millions struggling with cancer, Alzheimer’s and other rare and deadly diseases; by the millions of Americans struggling with mental illness; by the millions more who are struggling with substance abuse; and by every American who could be the victim of a biological attack.

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.


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