Senate approves 21st Century Cures Act

The Senate on Dec. 7 approved the 21st Century Cures Act, signaling a final legislative victory for President Barack Obama, who strongly supports the bill despite staunch objections from many liberal Democrats and consumer advocacy groups, according to The New York Times.

The 21st Century Cures Act, which was years in the making, passed the Senate in a 94-5 vote after it was overwhelmingly approved by the House last week.

The complex healthcare legislation would increase funding for medical research, enhance mental healthcare research, provide more money to fight the nationwide opioid epidemic and significantly change the regulatory system for medical devices and drugs.

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. In late November, Sen. Warren accused Republican legislators of trying to extort Democrats by tying additional funds for medical research to the bill. "I cannot vote for this bill," she said on the Senate floor, according to STAT. "I will fight it because I know the difference between compromise and extortion."

However, President Obama said he will sign the bill. "This is a reminder of what we can do when we look out for one another," said President Obama. "Like Joe Biden and so many other Americans, I've lost people I love deeply to cancer. I've heard often from those whose loved ones are suffering from Alzheimer's, addiction and other debilitating diseases. Their heartbreak is real, and so we have a responsibility to respond with real solutions. This bill will make a big difference, and I look forward to signing it as soon as it reaches my desk."

For more information on the 21st Century Cures Act, read the full New York Times report here.

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