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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Lame Duck ‘Cures’ Package Could Include Opioid Funding

October 27, 2016 | Addictions | Comments
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When Congress returns to session after Election Day, it will have a short window in which to finalize a number of legislative initiatives. To leaders in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle, passing the 21st Century Cures Act looks to be a top priority. The bill is a comprehensive package designed to foster improvements and innovation throughout the U.S. health system. It invests millions in medical research and technology advances in medicine and could serve as a potential vehicle on which Congress approves funding to address the opioid epidemic.

Earlier this month, Capitol Connector laid the political landscape for mental health legislation during the lame duck session. As noted then, Congress will be faced with funding the federal government beyond December 9 as well as determining which legislative initiatives to vote on and pass before the year is out. This week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke about the chances of the legislature taking up and approving the 21st Century Cures Act in this short window.

“I support [House Energy and Commerce] Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and [21st Century Cures Act author] Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) who have worked very hard on this and so we stand ready to help pass it in the lame duck,” she said at a press conference. “That’s not a universal view in our caucus. Some people don’t have the same support for him so we’re just going to have to build consensus.”

According to reports out of Washington, should congressional leaders decide to move the Cures bill, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) would introduce a new version of the bill, lowering costs and increasing offsets to make it more affordable. The new version and increased offsets reportedly would allow for the additional funding for initiatives like the opioid epidemic and Vice President Biden’s cancer moonshot.

The National Council continues to work closely with our legislative champions to move these initiatives forward. It is our hope that additional funding to address the nation’s opioid and heroin abuse epidemic would be added to any legislation moving in the remainder of the 114th Congress. Should an opportunity arise, we will notify advocates to take action on securing votes and passage for these funds.