Grab Bag of Goodies in 21st Century Cures Act
A sprawling health bill expected to pass the Senate and become law before the end of the year is a grab bag for industries that spent plenty of money lobbying to make sure it happened that way.
Winners and losers respecting the 21st Century Cures Act:
- Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Companies. The bill will likely save drug and device companies billions of dollars bringing products to market by giving the Food and Drug Administration new authority and tools to demand fewer studies from those companies and speed up approvals.
- Medical schools, hospitals and physicians. The bill provides $4.8 billion over 10 years in additional funding to National Institutes of Health, the federal government’s main biomedical research organization. (The funds are not guaranteed, however, and will be subject to annual appropriations.)
- Mental health and substance abuse advocates. The bill provides $1 billion in state grants over two years to address opioid abuse and addiction. While most of that money goes to treatment facilities, some will fund research.
- Patient groups. Specialty disease and patient advocacy groups supported the legislation and lobbied vigorously. Many of these groups get a portion of their funding from drug and device companies. The bill includes more patient input in the drug development and approval process, and the bill is a boost to the clout of such groups.
- Health information technology and software companies. The bill pushes federal agencies and health providers nationwide to use electronic health records systems and to collect data to enhance research and treatment. Although it doesn’t specifically fund the effort, IT and data management companies could gain millions of dollars in new business.
- Preventive medicine. The bill cuts $3.5 billion — about 30 percent — from the Prevention and Public Health Fund established under Obamacare to promote prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, hospital acquired infections, chronic illnesses, and other ailments.
- Hair growth patients. The bill says federal Medicaid will no longer help pay for drugs that help patients restore hair. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation spent $40,000 on lobbying disclosures this cycle that included Cures.
- The FDA. The bill gives the FDA an additional $500 million through 2026 and more hiring power, but critics say it isn’t enough to cover the additional workload under the bill. The agency also got something it opposed: renewal of a controversial voucher program that awards companies that approve drugs for rare pediatric diseases.
Source/more: Kaiser Health News
David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.