A pos­si­ble cure for grid­lock, too

The Denver Post - - OPINION -

Con­grat­u­la­tions are due to Con­gress­woman Diana DeGette and a bi­par­ti­san team of law­mak­ers who man­aged what seems in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult in these days of hy­per-par­ti­san­ship and Washington grid­lock: pas­sage of a ma­jor bill full of prom­ise for the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama is ex­pected to sign the 21st Cen­tury Cures Act, which re­ceived mas­sive sup­port in both the House and Se­nate in re­cent days, af­ter years of work on the part of DeGette, the Den­ver Demo­crat, and Repub­li­can Con­gress­man Fred Up­ton of Michi­gan.

As other wise souls have noted, get­ting a ma­jor bill that deals with health care passed with bi­par­ti­san sup­port af­ter the an­i­mos­ity left by the Democrats-only pas­sage of the Af­ford­able Care Act is no small ac­com­plish­ment.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell called the bill’s pas­sage “the most sig­nif­i­cant leg­is­la­tion passed by this Congress.”

We’ve cheered for the leg­is­la­tion, ar­gu­ing, as DeGette and Up­ton have ob­served, that the sta­tus quo for get­ting new drugs and med­i­cal de­vices to the mar­ket­place in this coun­try takes far too long, de­spite past con­gres­sional ef­forts. Re­searchers at the Tufts Cen­ter for the Study of Drug De­vel­op­ment, for ex­am­ple, found that in 2014 the cost of bring­ing a new pre­scrip­tion drug to mar­ket topped $2.6 bil­lion and more than 10 years.

The long, costly slog con­trasts with ma­jor ad­vances in biotech­nol­ogy and bio­med­i­cine.

The 21st Cen­tury Cures mea­sure in­tends to stream­line the ap­proval process within the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health and the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­view of new treat­ments. It also pro­vides means to com­bat opi­oid ad­dic­tion and bol­ster men­tal health care.

The mea­sure also helps fund the so-called “cancer moon-shot” ef­fort that Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den has launched and helps fund re­search into brain dis­eases like Alzheimer’s.

DeGette worked with Up­ton to hold nu­mer­ous pub­lic dis­cus­sions in Colorado and other states, as well as pol­icy dis­cus­sions with med­i­cal and pol­icy ex­perts, to bet­ter un­der­stand the chal­lenges and build sup­port for so­lu­tions.

“Fred and I worked with ev­ery­one we could think of,” DeGette told us re­cently.

No ef­fort is with­out its crit­ics, and the 21st Cen­tury Cures Act has them. Pro­gres­sive Sens. Bernie San­ders and El­iz­a­beth Warren ar­gue the leg­is­la­tion gives too many con­ces­sions to the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies. Law­mak­ers will need to keep a watch on this worry go­ing for­ward.

De­spite its crit­ics, the bill achieved the amaz­ing in gain­ing over­whelm­ing sup­port from both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide.

Be­cause of that sup­port, this leg­is­la­tion is likely to serve as a model for fu­ture law­mak­ers in­tent on see­ing their work not only make it to the pres­i­dent’s desk, but re­main suc­cess­ful. As Repub­li­can Sen. La­mar Alexander told The New York Times, “The next ad­min­is­tra­tion or the next Congress will not be re­peal­ing the Cures Act, be­cause we have taken the time to work out our dif­fer­ences, and cre­ate a con­sen­sus of sup­port.”

We look for­ward to the results and of­fer our thanks to DeGette for her lead­er­ship on this is­sue.

Cliff Owen, The Associated Press

Speaker Paul Ryan gives a thumbs-up to Max Schill, 7, who suf­fers from Noo­nan Syn­drome, af­ter sign­ing the 21st Cen­tury Cures Act last Thurs­day. Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, sec­ond from right, was a spon­sor of the bill.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.