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Autism Speaks Applauds Bipartisan Approval of 21st Century Cures Act

May 21, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – The nonpartisan 21st Century Cures Act was unanimously approved today by the full Energy and Commerce Committee 51-0. The legislation outlines provisions to increase funding of the National Institutes of Health, modernize clinical trials, and accelerate the rate of innovations including the development of personalized and precision medicines.

The 21st Century Cures Act was authored by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member DeGette, full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX). 

Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks applauded the bipartisan efforts in a letter of support ahead of today’s votes. Champions of the legislation, Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), originally launched the initiative last year and members of the committee have held a number of hearings and more than two-dozen roundtables to solicit feedback from a variety of stakeholders including from members of the autism community.

"This historic day marks a big bipartisan step forward on our path to cures,” said Upton. “We have all said too many early good-byes to people we love and treasure. Every single person has a common goal: we want more time with those we love. In this, the greatest country in the world, Americans deserve a system second to none. We can and must do better. The time for 21st Century Cures is now.” 

"In the last century, American medicine leapt from medicine shows to the mapping of the human genome,” said DeGette.” With the 21st Century Cures Act, we seek to support the biomedical community in making a similar leap forward in this next century. With billions in support for our premier research and development institutions and comprehensive reform of our systems, 21st Century Cures will make a real difference in the lives of patients and their families." 

“Today’s vote is an important next step for this committee as we work to get 21st Century Cures enacted into law by the end of the year,” said Pitts. “This bill is improved since the Subcommittee marked it up on May 14, and that demonstrates the collaborative nature of our effort. Landmark legislation like 21st Century Cures illustrates that Congress can and should strive for ambitious goals. I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their hard work to modernize our discovery, development and delivery system, which will give hope to millions of Americans for an accelerated path to cures.”

“Our committee has had the unique opportunity to help usher our health care system into the 21st century, and I am glad that we have come together to begin to do so in a bipartisan way with this bill,” said Pallone. “The 21st Century Cures Act will ensure that innovative treatments are getting to those who need them most, giving real hope to patients and their families. Critical funding for our nation’s top research institutions will help to bolster biomedical research, advance cutting edge science, and further improve the process by which life-saving cures are discovered and approved. Today’s vote is an important step toward improving the health and lives of millions of Americans.” 

Green added, “I’m proud of the final bill that was voted out of Committee, which will improve the innovation ecosystem for the development of life-saving medical breakthroughs, foster the development and the interoperability of health information technology, and better leverage critical resources to facilitate the discovery of new cures. After one year of deliberation, research, and stakeholder input we’re one step closer to delivering new cures and therapies, and hope to patients.”

“I would like to voice our support and sincerest gratitude for your efforts to accelerate the rate of innovations and research in medicine with the 21st Century Cures Act. Your bipartisan leadership and commitment to advancing treatments is celebrated by our organization and the countless individuals who could benefit from this landmark legislation,” said Liz Feld in a letter of support ahead of today’s votes. She added, “We are also grateful that the legislation has prioritized accelerating the promise of personalized medicine. This is an area of opportunity for the autism community, particularly in light of Autism Speaks’ genome project called MSSNG. An autism diagnosis frequently requires individualized treatment plans and the personalized medicine initiative has the potential to enable this further.”

To read comments from Energy and Commerce Committee members, click HERE and be sure to stay up to date on all advocacy related efforts HERE.