A federal bill two years in the making, the 21st Century Cures Act, was signed into law Dec. 13 by President Obama. U.S. Pain Foundation stood with more than 15 other organizations—including the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Global Genes, and the Genetic Alliance—to support the act. The $6 billion law will expand funding for medical research, invest in mental health resources and combat the opioid drug epidemic.

21st C 2“Although there were no funds specifically earmarked for pain, we are hopeful that some of the funds allocated for biomedical research in cancer, the brain and precision medicine will lead to increased understanding of pain, which is often a component of other illnesses,” says Cindy Steinberg, national director of Policy and Advocacy for U.S. Pain. “The new law calls for greater input of patients when evaluating a new treatment’s risks and benefits, especially for rare diseases, which is a good thing for patients. It also allocates significant funding for substance use disorder treatment and recovery, which is needed. We hope that the law will help address substance use disorder in a thoughtful and balanced way, without harming legitimate access for people living with pain.”

The bill provides for $4.8 billion in new funding for the National Institutes of Health. Included in that total is $1.8 billion for the “cancer moonshot” initiative, launched by Vice President Biden; $1.6 billion for brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s; $500 million in new funding for the Food and Drug Administration; and $1 billion in grants for states to address the opioid crisis.

The state grants related to opioids aim to enhance prescription drug monitoring programs, implement prevention activities, better train health care providers on addiction, and expand access to opioid treatment programs. The law also includes various Medicare and Medicaid provisions, including measures to improve electronic health records and encourage coverage for telehealth services.

The legislation passed with significant bipartisan majorities in the House (392-26) and Senate (94-5). To read more about the law, click here.