For the past several decades, partisan politics seems to be the standard operating procedure in Washington DC. No matter which political party is in control, the one with the majority in the House, the Senate or the White House, seems determined to stop any bill or action proposed by the opposite political party.
An example is what happened back in 2013 with the infamous Sequestration. Although Barack Obama and leading Democrats blamed Republicans for the government shutdown, the fault actually rests squarely on Obama’s shoulders. Obama was the one who insisted that if an acceptable budget bill did not reach his desk by a certain date, that there would be a government shutdown. Republicans refused to give Obama and the Democrats a blank check to spend trillions more dollars without having a means of either cutting enough programs to pay for it or to raise the additional revenue without raising taxes. Every budget proposal submitted by Republicans was rejected by the Democrats and a number of government operations shut down for a short period of time until Republicans gave in and compromised with Obama and the Democrats.
The same thing happened several years ago when the Republican controlled House submitted 12 different jobs bills to the then Democratic controlled Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to even look at 11 of the 12 bills submitted by House GOP and after reading the 1 and only bill of the 12, he refused to allow it to go to committee or the floor of the Senate.
In a surprising move this week, the Senate voted 94-5 to approve the 21st Century Cures Act that passed the House by a 392-26 vote on November 30. The bipartisan passage of the bill, which is one of Barack Obama’s pet healthcare projects, is a surprise to many that bipartisan politics can happen.
The 21st Century Cures Act, which Obama says he will sign the moment the bill reaches his desk, will allocate $6.3 billion for research and development of cures for killer diseases like cancer, tuberculosis and others plaguing the American people.
According to Section 2 of the Introduction of House Resolution 6:
“The NIH and Cures Innovation Fund is established and funds are appropriated: (1) for biomedical research, including high-risk, high-reward research and research conducted by early stage investigators; (2) to develop and implement a strategic plan for biomedical research; and (3) to carry out specified provisions of this Act.”
In commenting on the 21st Century Cures Act, Obama stated:
“We are now one step closer to ending cancer as we know it, unlocking cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s, and helping people seeking treatment for opioid addiction finally get the help they need.”
“Third, it invests nearly $3 billion to build upon the major biomedical research initiatives we have launched in my administration – known as the BRAIN and Precision Medicine Initiatives – which are tackling diseases like Alzheimer’s and creating new research models to find cures and better target treatments.”
Dr. Daniel Hayes, President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology reacted to the passage of the bill, stating:
“The remarkable bipartisan, bicameral support for the 21st Century Cures Act proves that congressional lawmakers are serious about the need for scientific research, effective care-delivery, and the removal of barriers to scientific progress.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack commented about one of the provisions in the bill that would allocate $500 million a year for states to fight and prevent the epidemic misuse of opioid drugs:
“These additional resources are particularly critical in rural areas, where rates of opioid misuse and overdose are high, access to treatment is limited, and patients who seek treatment are often met with waitlists that can mean the difference between life and death.”
However, not everyone is pleased with the 21st Century Cures Act as it will take a large portion of funding currently going to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, to help offset the costs. Rich Hamburg, Interim President and CEO of Trust for America’s Health commented about the new bill, saying:
“The Trust for America’s Health is deeply disappointed Congress will utilize the Prevention and Public Health Fund as an offset for the legislative package known as 21st Century Cures.”
“Cutting the Prevention Fund will limit the nation’s ability to improve health and quality of life and prevent disease. This is the nation’s first and only substantial investment in moving from our current ‘sick care’ system to a true preventive health system.”
In other words, they are taking money away from programs working on finding cures and treating people with cancer, Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease among others, in order to fund the curing and treatment of people with the same killer diseases. So, has the medical community really gained anything by the new bill or is it just another way of doing what’s already being done just so the politicians look good?