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21st Century Cures: A “Green Shoot” on Capitol Hill


One year ago Thursday Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) partnered with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) to begin the conversation about 21st Century Cures. The initiative has not only brought Republicans and Democrats together, but it has brought patients, innovators, researchers, advocates, consumers, and regulators to the table with them. Charlie Cook writes in National Journal that 21st Century Cures is an “interesting and exciting” initiative, “the kind of legislation that can move when there is an atmosphere that can foster cooperation and a willingness to compromise.”

This week the Subcommittee on Health will continue the legislative phase of this initiative with a hearing on Thursday to review a forthcoming discussion draft.

April 27, 2015

More ‘Green Shoots’ on the Hill

By Charlie Cook

Last week, this column noted the avoidance of drama this past fall, when another government shutdown could have occurred, and the fact that in recent weeks, Congress eliminated the much reviled Medicare Sustained Growth Rate (aka the “doc fix”)—something that has eluded Congress repeatedly over the past decade—and extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Both chambers approved budget resolutions as well, and the Senate confirmed a federal judge for good measure: all signs that we may be seeing “green shoots,” signs of real legislative life on Capitol Hill. …

Congress still is far from being able to pull off a Grand Bargain on big budget issues. Such things require a level of trust that has to be built. But while those relationships are being developed, cultivated, or restored, other important accomplishments can happen.

One particularly interesting and exciting move, championed by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, is dubbed “21st Century Cures,” aimed at helping the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration find and expedite development of cures for deadly and debilitating diseases. Upton points out that there are about 10,000 known diseases—roughly 7,000 of which are rare—but only 500 real cures. One of Upton’s colleagues dubbed the bill FRED, for “Finding Really Exciting Drugs.”

This is the kind of legislation that can move when there is an atmosphere that can foster cooperation and a willingness to compromise. Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette was an early advocate with Upton, and the push is on to attract support on both sides of the aisle, with Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone, also a Democrat, considered an important player on this issue.

Maybe all of this sounds Pollyannaish, but I’ve never met a member of Congress who didn’t come to Washington to try and do something. The behavior on both sides of the aisle and both ends of the Capitol sometimes leaves a different impression. But success and progress beget success and progress, and we may be seeing some actually occur.

Read the article online HERE.


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