House approves 21st Century Cures Act: 5 things to know

The House on Wednesday overwhelming approved the 21st Century Cures Act, a broad-reaching measure that increases funding for research into cancer and other diseases, expands access to treatment for mental healthcare and combats the rising epidemic of opioid abuse, according to The New York Times.

The $6.3 billion bill would provide the NIH with up to $4.8 billion in additional funding over 10 years. Over the same time period, it would also provide $500 million in new funding for the FDA and $1 billion in grants to states to deal with the opioid crisis and improve mental healthcare.

The bill will go to the Senate next week, according to the report. Here are five things to know about the bill and its next steps.

1. The House passed the 21st Century Cures Act by a 392 to 26 vote, indicating strong bipartisanship, according to STAT.

2. The bill heads to the Senate early next week for a vote. Party leaders on both sides of the aisle said they expect the bill will pass, according to the report.

3. However, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the minority leader, said there has been "angst" over the bill among his colleagues. Some senators, including Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., have said they will oppose it, according to STAT.

4. Much of the criticism of the bill centers on provisions that will enable faster approval of prescription drugs and medical devices. Although supporters say the new measures will preserve safety standards, opponents — including Sen. Warren, some former FDA officials and national consumer groups — disagree.

5. Language in the bill that would have exempted some speaker fees from the Sunshine Act, which requires physicians to report payments they receive from the pharmaceutical industry, was excised at the last minute, according to The New York Times.  

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