Describing it as “…an opportunity to save lives, an opportunity we just can’t miss,” President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law earlier today.
As we shared with you just last week, the Act recently passed the House of Representatives and the Senate after years of work at the ground level to make its passage today a reality.
We are celebrating the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which was introduced by Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO), a landmark bill that creates even greater momentum in broadening patient access to care, involving patients in new research, and leveraging technology to create efficiencies. This is a great victory for all people with arthritis and our Advocates, who have worked for more two years to move this bill to passage into law.
This comprehensive law will accelerate medical research and the approval of drugs and devices by leveraging innovation, technology and patient input in the process.
So, how will the 21st Century Cures Act benefit people with arthritis? Just a few of the provisions and outcomes of the Act that will have an impact for people with arthritis are highlighted below:
- Incorporate patient-focused drug development strategies, allowing the patient’s voice and experience to be considered during new drug development. This complements work the Foundation is already doing to gather patient experience data and involve patients in the research process.
- Increase patient use of health information technology, helping people with arthritis have the most timely and up-to-date health information.
- Support programs that will expand and improve mental health and substance abuse services, helping people with arthritis who also live with mental health and substance abuse disorders.
- Require guidance that will help qualify biomarkers and target therapies, greatly benefiting people with osteoarthritis who don’t yet have targeted drug therapies to address their disease.
- Attract more scientists into the research field, consistent with the Foundation’s scientific strategy.
- Support efforts to improve telehealth services in Medicare, helping people with arthritis gain access to physicians they might not otherwise have access to.
- Improve the process for determining which Medicare treatments are covered, leading to increased access to arthritis treatments for Medicare beneficiaries.
- Allow Medicare beneficiaries to shop for services in order to find the most cost-effective treatments available.
This is a huge victory for our Advocates, who played a key role in passage of the act. Beginning more than 2 years ago, our Advocates began organizing and meeting with legislators, sharing their personal arthritis stories and urging for support of the act.
“This is a very exciting day for the arthritis community and our Advocates,” said Sandie Preiss, national vice president for the Foundation’s Advocacy & Access program. “It’s the culmination and result of tireless work by our Advocates, and unwavering support by legislators. It’s proof positive that the arthritis community’s voice is strong and loud, and that meaningful change can happen.”
Hanna Gruen is an Advocate from Pittsburgh, PA. She has osteoarthritis for which there is no disease-modifying treatment. Legislation that could lead to a therapy for her disease and dramatically improve her quality of life is a game-changer. For her and so many of our Advocates, passage of the act is personal.
Hanna’s work with the act started almost 2 years ago when she helped secure a spot for the Arthritis Foundation in a field hearing hosted by Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA). The hearing included a panel of healthcare providers and people affected by arthritis who spoke about the challenges they face and how the act will help. Hanna’s work continued well after the hearing and included meetings with Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA), and frequent communications with other legislators.
“It takes years to get a new drug to market,” said Hanna. “To me, passage of the act means that Congress is concerned with healthcare. They want to bring new and better drugs to market much faster.”
With the installation of new government leadership in 2017, significant changes to healthcare might be looming.
“Our continuing advocacy is extremely important, especially now with the new administration,” said Hanna. “What will become of healthcare, Medicare and the cost of medication? We really need to keep on top of this, for all our constituents who have arthritis.” Passage of this landmark legislation is a good first step.
You can stay on top by joining the Advocate program or attending the 2017 Advocacy Summit, March 6-7, Washington, DC. For more information, visit our website.
Our History of Work on the 21st Century Cures Act:
- 21st Century Cures Act Passes House of Representatives – A Big Win for the Arthritis Community
- Success! 21st Century Cures Act Bolstered by Arthritis Foundation Advocates
- We Need Your Help to Accelerate the Pace of Cures in America
- Arthritis Foundation Continues the Dialog on Capitol Hill to Remove Barriers to Care!