House Passes Historic Mental Health and 21st Century Cures Bills

WASHINGTON – Today, the House passed H.Amdt. to S.Admt. to H.R. 34, 21st Century Cures Act, by a bipartisan vote of 392-26. The 21st Century Cures Act provides critical funding in a deficit-reducing manner to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and ensures that great research institutions like Little Rock’s University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital can sustain their search for cures to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

“I lost my mother to cancer and my mother-in-law to Alzheimer’s and I know first-hand the devastating affect these diseases can have on families,” said Congressman French Hill (AR-02). “Providing this funding to NIH will move us closer to finally curing these diseases and potentially saving millions of lives.”

The 21st Century Cures Act also included provisions that would modernize clinical trials and streamline and improve the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) review of lifesaving medications. It also included the text of H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016, which passed the House on July 6, 2016, by a vote of 422-2.

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act would refocus and retool mental health programs and create a Senate-confirmed assistant secretary position to oversee and coordinate mental health programs and policies. It also would address severe shortages in our mental health workforce and treatment facilities, increasing the inpatient bed space to ensure patients have access to quality mental health care. This bill also would improve mental health care for children undergoing serious emotional issues and adults struggling with mental illness through targeted authorizations and reauthorizations, including expanding Assisted Outpatient Treatment.

“The mental health component of 21st Century Cures is a small but important first step in reforming our outdated mental health care system at the federal level,” said Hill. “But states should also reevaluate their civil commitment laws to ensure those in psychiatric crisis can get treatment.”

Similar to the 21st Century Cures Act, the core provisions of H.R. 2646 all passed the House earlier through regular order and by overwhelmingly bipartisan majorities.