The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes $1 billion in new funding to prevent and treat opioid addiction. The House approved the measure last week.
The legislation includes funding for cancer research and mental health treatment, and will help the Food and Drug Administration speed up drug approvals. The measure also aims to improve the use of technology in medicine.
The legislation passed 94 to 5, according to The New York Times.
President Obama issued a statement praising passage of the bill. He said, “The Cures Act makes important investments that will save lives.”
The Act includes several items that impact the prevention and treatment of substance abuse disorders. It will:
- Establish a new account, the account for the state response to the opioid abuse crisis, with $500 million per year for FY2017 and FY2018; funds are to be distributed as part of the Opioid Grant Program to state agencies responsible for substance abuse treatment and prevention to supplement activities supported by Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) block grants
- Provide approximately $1.8 billion per year FY2018-FY2022 in SAPT block grant funding to help states prevent and treat opioid addiction
- Create a new assistant secretary for mental health and substance use appointed by the President to oversee SAMHSAInclude a focus on improving the enforcement of laws that require equal insurance coverage for mental and physical illnesses by federal agencies
- Establish a new committee to link leaders of key agencies including SAMHSA, DOJ, and Veteran's Affairs
- Establish an Advisory Board, the National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory, to identify, coordinate, and facilitate the implementation of policy changes; evaluate and disseminate information on evidence-based practices, including culturally and linguistically appropriate services, as appropriate, and service delivery models assess treatments and services; provide leadership in identifying and coordinating policies and programs, including evidence based programs, related to mental and substance use disorders; and, periodically review programs and activities operated by the Administration relating to the diagnosis or prevention of, treatment for, and recovery from, mental and substance use disorders.