December 7, 2016

Medical Research Bill Passes with Funding to Fight Opioid Addiction & Key Health IT Provisions

Whitehouse, author of comprehensive addiction legislation, praises funding to fight opioid crisis

Washington, DC – Today, the Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act, to fund medical research and the operations of the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who helped to craft the bill as a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, voted in favor of the bill and praised the inclusion of $1 billion in grant funding for states to address the opioid addiction crisis.

“Addiction is a terrible illness that requires all the support and care we can provide.  These funds to help prevent and treat addiction to opioid drugs will be put to good use in hard-hit states like Rhode Island,” Whitehouse said.  In July, the President signed into law Whitehouse’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which established a range of policies to prevent and treat addiction to opioid drugs, including programs to increase education on drug use, to expand medication-assisted treatment, to improve prescription drug monitoring programs, and to promote comprehensive state responses to the opioid crisis. 

The 21st Century Cures Act also includes important health information technology reforms similar to those in Whitehouse’s bipartisan Transparent Ratings on Usability and Security to Transform Information Technology (TRUST IT) Act. 

“It’s hard for health care providers to get the facts on health IT products before they buy,” said Whitehouse.  “That’s why I’m glad this bill includes reforms I worked on to help providers evaluate which products deserve their business, and to prevent health IT developers from blocking the free exchange of electronic health records or important information about their health IT products.”

One TRUST IT Act provision included in the bill will help health care providers choose electronic health record systems by allowing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in consultation with health care stakeholders, to create a reporting system that collects information on the usability, interoperability, and security of electronic health records.  The information would be made available to health care providers and the public.  An additional TRUST IT provision would empower HHS’s Inspector General to investigate and take action against claims that health IT developers, health care providers, exchanges, or other entities restrict or interfere with the exchange or use of electronic health information.

Having passed the House last week, the bill now heads to the President to be signed into law.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921