12.07.16

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Votes for Major Bipartisan Health Care Innovation Legislation

21st Century Cures Act includes actions championed by Senator Baldwin, including $1 billion to fight opioid epidemic and strong support for next generation researchers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today voted for the 21st Century Cures Act. The bipartisan health care innovation legislation includes actions championed by Senator Baldwin, including $1 billion in funding to fight the opioid epidemic and stronger support for our next generation of researchers. Senator Baldwin released the following statement after the legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 94-5:

“This bipartisan legislation includes many reforms I championed, including my efforts to invest in the fight against the opioid epidemic and strengthen medical research in Wisconsin. Opioid abuse is an epidemic that continues to grow at an alarming rate and Washington needs to be a stronger partner for states like Wisconsin. That is why I led the fight to include additional investments for opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery efforts in the 21st Century Cures Act. And by including my Next Generation Researchers Act, this bipartisan legislation makes a strong commitment to our young scientists, who are being held back by state budget cuts and are in need of greater support to pursue life-saving research and discover the next medical breakthrough.”

“The 21st Century Cures Act is a compromise so it is not perfect and there is more work to be done. I am concerned that this legislation does not do more to strengthen patient safety, to improve oversight of medical products once they reach our families, and to ensure that the life-saving medications patients rely on are affordable. Advancing innovation must be balanced with protecting the public health, and I will continue my work to ensure that all Americans have access to the most high-quality, safe and affordable health care.”

Investing $1 billion to fight the opioid epidemic

As the 21st Century Cures Act was being negotiated, Senator Baldwin led the effort to include investments to fight the opioid epidemic in the legislation. Senator Baldwin’s efforts resulted in $1 billion of additional funding for state prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. The funding will be provided over two years through Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grants to states struggling with a high incidence of opioid abuse.

Senator Baldwin has been a strong advocate in the fight to address the national opioid epidemic. In just this year, Senator Baldwin has traveled across Wisconsin to hold roundtable dialogues on the opioid and heroin epidemic in Green Bay, La Crosse, Wausau, Viroqua, Ashland, Superior, Eau Claire and Arlington.

Senator Baldwin has repeatedly called for Washington to be a stronger partner for states and communities combating the opioid epidemic. She cosponsored the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which became law and included her bipartisan VA opioid prescribing reforms named in honor of Wisconsin Marine veteran Jason Simcakoski.

Over the past year she has also been a leading advocate for stronger investments to address the opioid crisis, cosponsoring legislation to provide emergency funding to address the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic that is devastating communities in Wisconsin and across the country.

Supporting Wisconsin’s next generation researchers

At a time when America’s young researchers are facing a difficult funding environment, Senator Baldwin was joined by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to introduce bipartisan legislation that improves opportunities for new researchers and helps address the debt burden that young scientists face today. Senator Baldwin’s Next Generation Researchers Act has been included in the 21st Century Cures Act to invest in the future of American research, science, and innovation.

By including Senator Baldwin’s Next Generation Researchers Act, the 21st Century Cures Act will establish the Next Generation of Researchers Initiative at NIH to expand opportunities for our new scientists. This measure will also improve NIH’s loan repayment programs by increasing the amount of loans that NIH can forgive for trainees, from $35,000 a year to $50,000.

Wisconsin has already seen the negative impacts of not investing in our research universities and their young researchers. As a result of cuts at the state level, UW-Madison fell out of the top 5 in national research university rankings for the first time in over 40 years. Research and innovation have long been drivers of economic growth in Wisconsin and this legislation will show a commitment to our nation’s future scientists.

Bipartisan Investments in America’s Health Care

The bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act also makes additional investments and strengthens America’s medical research and healthcare system. The 21st Century Cures Act makes investments in innovative biomedical research that includes Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, precision medicine and research for degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, and takes important steps to improve our mental health and substance use disorder system. The 21st Century Cures Act also includes Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan Anna Westin Act to help combat eating disorders, as well as her Advancing NIH Strategic Planning and Representation in Medical Research Act to improve research efforts related to the health of LGBT Americans.