Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced that the Senate will not take up H.R. 6, 21st Century Cures Act, but will mark up a number of individual bills that currently have bipartisan support.
The 21st Century Cures bill was passed by the House of Representative last July. The legislation would create a “Cure Innovation Fund” that would provide temporary, mandatory funding for the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bill aims to increase targeted investment in biomedical research focusing on breakthroughs and included nearly $10 billion for the NIH over five years. Increased funding for the NIH would help the agency dedicate more resources to medical research, which could lead to new cures and treatments for chronic illnesses like kidney disease.
The Senate HELP Committee has marked up and passed a number of bills, ranging from neurology disease to funding for research and development. The bills are expected to be combined into a single bill after each individual bill has been considered and passed through committee. The one area of continued contention in the Senate is the “mandatory” funding aspect of 21st Century Cures. Members of the Senate want the mandatory funding to be deducted from other areas of the budget. Chairman Alexander is expected to work on this aspect of the bill, as it expected to be resolved before the bill is brought to the Senate floor for consideration.