21st Century Cures Act Signed Into Law

On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the “21st Century Cures Act,” which passed with broad bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House. Here is a summary of the key provisions of the new law:

Mental Health Reform: The reforms include an interdepartmental coordinating committee to review research of serious mental illness, the creation of a national mental health and substance use policy laboratory, stronger enforcement of mental health parity, focus on early intervention programs, and funding for suicide prevention programs. The law also includes criminal justice reforms that focus on mental health diversion, making assisted outpatient treatment an alternative to jail time and providing funding for assertive community treatment. Finally, the law ends the Medicaid ban on same-day billing of mental health and medical treatment.  The law includes most of the provisions of the Senate’s Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 with some additions from the House’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 bill.

Funding for Medical Research: The law authorizes, subject to annual appropriations by Congress, $4.8 billion in funding to the National Institutes of Health, including $1.8 billion for cancer research and $1.6 billion for Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. The law also authorizes $1 billion to state programs that help treat opioid addiction, and $500 million to the Food and Drug Administration. Further, the law cut $3.5 billion from the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, about 30% of its budget.

Drug Industry Deregulation: The law reduced regulation on the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, particularly in the kinds of studies required to approve a new drug or medical device. The pharmaceutical, device, and biotech industries spent more than $192 million lobbying for the bill. The law does not contain any cost control measures for pharmaceuticals or medical devices.

For more information about the “21st Century Cures Act,” please contact your Trust Fund counsel.

By Kristina M. Zinnen | January 9, 2017

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