Conservative Health Care Reform For The 21st Century

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Rep. Gus Bilirakis Congressman, Florida 12th District
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The 21st Century Cures Initiative has examined and seeks to accelerate the complete cycle of cures – from discovery to development to delivery and back again to discovery, and has resulted in the 21st Century Cures Act – a culmination of over a year’s worth of engaging with patients, researchers, physicians, government, and private entities.

In addition to bringing better cures and treatments to markets more quickly – which is itself a significant achievement – the 21st Century Cures Act represents significant, fiscally responsible regulatory and budgetary reform.

A substantial portion of the 21st Century Cures Act is devoted to an overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In recent years, science and technology have made enormous strides, but the regulatory structure governing the FDA has restricted its ability to fully embrace these advances.

The 21st Century Cures Act will modernize the FDA, unlocking tools and resources that will help it take advance of all that 21st century science has to offer. By requiring the FDA to consider the patient perspective, develop a specific framework for the approval of biomarkers and other drug development tools, modernizing and updating clinical trials, and requiring the FDA to issue timely and accurate guidance to drug and device manufacturers (among other provisions), this bill ensures the FDA can fulfill its mission in as efficient a manner as possible, while still maintaining the gold standard of safety.

The reforms in 21st Century Cures are things conservatives should be advocating across all areas of government.

The 21st Century Cures Act also reforms permanent entitlement programs – mandatory spending – and uses those savings to pay for a temporary investment in medical research. Investing in medical innovation will mean healthier Americans. Healthier people mean less spending on health care, which will also save the taxpayers’ money.

Mandatory spending on entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid is undoubtedly the main driver of America’s debt. Positive reforms to reduce entitlement spending coupled with investments to find cures for diseases like Parkinson’s and heart disease is a no brainer for fiscal conservatives.

Permanent savings in entitlement programs and mandatory spending is a huge win in this legislation. According to CBO, the bill will reduce the deficit by more than $500 million over ten years.

Energy and Commerce staff has noted that over the second decade, the permanent entitlement reforms in the 21st Century Cures Act could cut federal spending an additional $7 billion.

Beyond being a bill to help patients, to help streamline regulations, and to help tackle our debt crisis, the 21st Century Cures Act is also a jobs bill. Our economy is growing at an anemic pace, and the labor force participation rate is at its lowest since the Carter administration.

Americans want to, and need to, get back to work. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), medical device industry, and biopharmaceutical industry support nearly 6.5 million jobs in the United States. By encouraging organic, bottom-up growth and innovation in these sectors, they will be able to expand, hire, and keep more high paying jobs in the United States.

The 21st Century Cures Act is a triumph for patients across the nation, by making better cures and treatments available more quickly. This bill provides job growth and meaningful regulatory and budget reforms. This is one of the best pieces of legislation Congress has seen in a long time.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis represents Florida’s 12th Congressional District and has served in the House since 2007. He sits on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.