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House passes 21st Century Cures Act

Legislation provides critical funding for disease research and addressing opioid epidemic

Washington, DC, November 30, 2016

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree today voted in support of the 21st Century Cures Act. The legislation dedicates $1 billion over two years to help states battle opioid addiction and $4.8 billion over 10 years for medical research initiatives. It also streamlines the FDA approval process, makes key mental health reforms, and contains tick-borne disease provisions Pingree advocated for.

“Maine is now averaging 1 drug overdose every day, so the importance of funding to treat this terrible epidemic can’t be overstated.  This legislation will provide that assistance just as Maine and other states need it most,” said Pingree.  “By increasing funding for research and streamlining the FDA approval process, the 21st Century Cures Act will also accelerate new treatments for diseases that currently have no cure. For years, I’ve met with constituents who are anxiously awaiting medical breakthroughs to treat cancer, muscular dystrophy, ALS, and many other devastating illnesses—this offers them new hope.”

The legislation also includes key mental health provisions, including reauthorizing Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Grants, updating grant programs that support individuals in crisis, and strengthening training in the health care workforce. 

Finally, the bill contains provisions on the treatment of tick-borne diseases that Pingree has advocated for—the creation of a federal workgroup that will include patients and advocates, and a requirement that the Secretary of Health and Human Services create a strategic plan to address the long-term impacts of Lyme disease. 

“There are many positive developments in this legislation, but there is more work to be done to ensure that new treatments are safe, affordable, and accessible,” said Pingree.  “I’m also disappointed that this legislation makes research funding discretionary when it should be mandatory.  Ensuring that Congress follows through on providing funding will be one of my top priorities on the Appropriations Committee.” 

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