Thanks in large part to the hard work of our Advocates, the 21st Century Cures Act passed the House of Representatives on Nov. 30, clearing a major hurdle as the bill moves closer to enactment. If enacted, this comprehensive bill will improve access to life-changing care through several initiatives including:
- $6.3 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health and US Food & Drug Administration to carry out additional research and drug approval.
- Support for programs to attract scientists into the research field.
- Provisions that will make research findings and related information available to other researchers.
- Assurances that juvenile arthritis is adequately represented in research projects.
- Enhancements to make it easier for people with arthritis to find and participate in clinical trials.
- Use of patient-focused drug development strategies.
- Processes that will accelerate approval of drugs.
- Support for expanded telehealth services in Medicare.
- Authorized Medicare coverage of disposable medical products that are used in the home, like syringes and catheters.
- Improved processes for Medicare coverage determinations.
- Allowance for Medicare beneficiaries to shop for the most cost-effective treatments and services.
Our Advocates have been working on passage of the 21st Century Cures Act for more than two years, participating in a press conference, meeting with Energy and Commerce Committee staff, meeting with their representatives, writing op-ed pieces for their local papers and sending more than 900 individual letters of support to legislators. We also led the creation and signing of two letters of support that were signed by a total of 32 other organizations.
Margo Deihl is an Ambassador and college student from Fredericksburg, Virginia who testified before the Energy and Commerce Committee at a briefing in June 2015. She spoke about her personal battle with arthritis, how the disease has affected her and what passage of the 21st Century Cures Act will mean for the arthritis community.
“I like being in the middle of the action,” said Margo about her work as an Ambassador. “I get my energy from being heavily involved in something I’m passionate about. The Ambassador program gives people an opportunity to channel passion into action and make a difference on the state and federal levels for everyone with arthritis.”
“This is a great win for our Advocates and the arthritis community,” said Sandie Preiss, national vice president of Advocacy & Access. “We also owe a debt of gratitude to Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) who introduced the act, and the House and Senate health committee leaders and members for their ardent support.”
Now that the act has passed the House, it moves to the Senate for review. You can help get the 21st Century Cures Act approved by becoming an Arthritis Foundation Advocate or, better yet, attending our upcoming 2017 Advocacy Summit, March 6-7, in Washington DC. You can get more information about our advocacy program on our website, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.