21st Century Cures Passes House, Awaits Senate Action
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Posted by: Bradley Coffey, MA, AAOE Government Affairs
Washington, DC - The Senate and House have reached an agreement on 21st Century Cures, the landmark legislation from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The House had passed the legislation over the summer but it was held up in the Senate over disagreements for funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The Senate reached an agreement on NIH funding and the legislation was introduced into the House of Representatives. The current bill will provide $4.77 billion over 10 years to the NIH for research initiatives including Precision Medicine, $1 billion to states to fight the opioid epidemic, and $500 million over 10 years to the FDA to get drugs and devices to patients more quickly.
The legislation includes various health IT requirements including $15 million to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to support interoperability and fight information blocking. The original language was derided by industry groups, including AAOE, for being too overbearing.
The bill will also encourage the use of clinical registries, a GAO study on patient matching, and exclude ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) from meaningful use penalties for three years (or, until ONC has created an EHR certification program for them). An additional gift to physicians, "repeal" of the Sunshine Act, was originally included in the legislation but was removed after Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) objected to the language.
The revised legislation passed the House 392 - 26 on November 30, 2016 despite objections from some patient advocacy organizations. The bill will now go to the Senate where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has declared 21st Century Cures a priority for the Senate. A vote is expected in the Senate by Wednesday, December 7.
UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on the bill, HR 34, Thursday, December 1 with a vote scheduled for 5:30 pm Monday, December 5.
UPDATE: The Senate passed 21st Century Cures on Wednesday, December 7, 94-5. President Obama has indicated he will sign the legislation.