A surprisingly positive thing happened on May 21. The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved the 21st Century Cures Act. Republican Chairman Fred Upton and Democrat Diana DeGette joined forces to put forward a bold proposal for better research, faster regulatory approval and new approaches to finding cures as rapidly as possible.
The House bill will be matched by the Innovation for Healthier Americans Act, which Chairman Lamar Alexander is working on in the Senate.
This effort to streamline the Food and Drug Administration bureaucracy, invest in more medical research at the National Institutes of Health, and incentivize more rapid development of cures is a very important step toward better health and lower costs for all Americans.
Americans would far prefer to cure sick people, not ration their access to health care through bureaucracies and cutting services.
As I argued in a recent New York Times op-ed, fiscal conservatives should be strong supporters of this approach to 21st century cures. With an aging population, diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's , Parkinson's, heart disease and others will become more prevalent and will cost taxpayers extraordinary sums of money if we do not find breakthrough cures.
The FDA has all too often slowed down the development of new cures and treatments. It now takes 15 years, on average, for the agency to approve a new drug. The 21st Century Cures Act in the House and Chairman Alexander’s bill in the Senate will cut through much of the red tape and will accelerate getting new breakthroughs from the laboratory to the medicine cabinet.
Similarly, reforming procedures at the National Institutes of Health will reduce the amount of paperwork and red tape scientists will have to endure to conduct basic research. This will allow scientists to focus on discovery rather than bureaucracy.
The 21st Century Cures Act also shifts resources to help younger scientists have more opportunities to apply their knowledge and creativity to solving health problems.
Finally, the 21st Century Cures Act focuses on accelerating biomedical innovation at a time when the science and technology of medicine are exploding with opportunities for new and better solutions.
You can read the full details of the 21st Century Cures Act here.
Call or write your Member of Congress and encourage him or her to pass this important and innovative legislation. And tweet about it using #Cures2015.
Then watch Senator Alexander and his colleagues in the Senate as they build on the 21st Century Cures approach in developing their own bill. In fact, if you have some ideas for modernizing our health research and regulatory system, this is the time to share them with your Senators as they work to develop their legislation.
It is exciting to see a bipartisan, creative approach to helping Americans find better cures so they can live longer, healthier lives while spending a lot less on medical care.
It is also exciting to see that amazing breakthroughs in science and technology can help elected officials see a way out of partisan gridlock toward a positive future.
Chairman Fred Upton and Congresswoman Diana DeGette deserve our thanks for working together to produce such an important proposal.
P.S. Autographed and personalized copies of Callista's new children's book, From Sea to Shining Sea are now available.
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by Newt and Callista Gingrich
The Gingrich Foundation is proud to announce Easter Seals as its June Charity of the Month, in recognition of the important services it provides to Americans with a variety of special needs.
Easter Seals has worked to improve the lives of those with disabilities for more than 90 years. It was founded by Ohio Businessman Edgar Allen, who established a hospital after the death of his son in a streetcar accident. His work there brought him face to face with the lack of support for children with disabilities. In 1919, Allen founded the National Society for Crippled Children to help address their unique challenges.
Fifteen years later, the society launched an Easter fundraising campaign in which donors purchased “seals” featuring a lily for letters and envelopes. The initiative took off, sparking a tide of awareness across the country about Americans with disabilities. With this increased attention, the organization expanded its mission nationwide, and its “seal” campaign was so identified with these efforts that in 1967, it officially changed its name to “Easter Seals.”
Today, Easter Seals has grown to an international organization supporting individuals with a variety of disabilities and serving more than one million people each year. Through its network of more than 550 sites in the United States, Easter Seals offers childcare for those with special needs, with careful attention to each child’s learning and development. For school-aged children and adults, Easter Seals provides several support programs, including outpatient therapy and a school to work transition program, in addition to its adult day care, in-home, and workplace services.
Easter Seals was instrumental in developing and passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Because those with disabilities have needs that often go unseen, the law makes important accommodations in public places and services. In addition, it provides that individuals may not be discriminated against in employment situations due to disability, just as they may not be due to race or gender. For the millions of disabled Americans who work to help support themselves, Easter Seals’ efforts on their behalf made a big difference.
After more than a decade of American service members at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, Easter Seals is responding to the mounting physical and mental disability challenges of soldiers attempting to transition back to civilian life. Since many families are welcoming home veterans who bring needs they did not have before their military service, Easter Seals, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, offers training support services for caregivers. And as one of America’s largest disability services organizations, Easter Seals is on the front line of assistance for many of our disabled returning veterans.
We were thrilled last month to attend the 2015 Advocacy Awards dinner for Easter Seals serving Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The event broke previous records, with more than $800,000 raised. The Easter Seals DC|MD|VA team led by Lisa Reeves, CEO, and Robin Portman, 2015 Advocacy Awards Chair, did an exceptional job.
Easter Seals does critical work to aid more than a million Americans with special needs. Please join us in supporting its efforts today.
Newt and Callista