Klobuchar-Backed 21st Century CURES Act Includes Funding for Opioid Abuse Treatment and Prevention, Legislation Also Includes Her Anna Westin Act to Combat Eating Disorders
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced that the 21st Century CURES ACT, bipartisan legislation she has backed and which passed the Senate today, includes $1 billion in funding for the treatment and prevention called for in Klobuchar's bipartisan bill to combat prescription drug abuse, which was signed into law earlier this year. The bill also includes her Anna Westin Act legislation to combat eating disorders, which builds on Paul Wellstone's mental health bill, and contains nearly $5 billion in funding for research into cures for Alzheimer's, cancer, and other diseases. The bill now heads to the president's desk to be signed into law.
"The passage of this significant bipartisan legislation will move our country forward in the efforts to ensure treatment for addiction is attainable, mental health care is accessible, and cures for diseases are within reach," said Klobuchar.
Building from Klobuchar's Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was signed into law this year, this legislation includes $1 billion over two years for grants to states to supplement opioid abuse treatment and prevention activities.
"This year, I was one of four senators who led the major bipartisan legislation to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic, and the CURES Act contains much-needed funding for the addiction treatment and prevention we called for in the original CARA bill," said Klobuchar.
Klobuchar also successfully included the Anna Westin Act, which would increase training and education on eating disorders and ensure parity for insurance coverage of residential treatment of eating disorders.
"Of much significance, this bill includes the Anna Westin Act, bipartisan eating disorder legislation I have led for many years," Klobuchar said. "Anna's mom, Kitty, lives in Minnesota and has been a national leader in the effort to combat eating disorders. This legislation, which builds on the Paul Wellstone mental health bill, will help the millions of Americans suffering from eating disorders get the help they need."
The CURES Act also includes $4.8 billion over 10 years for the National Institutes of Health to help fund Vice President Biden's Cancer Moonshot Initiative; the Precision Medicine Initiative to spur research into the genetic, lifestyle, and environmental variations of disease; and the BRAIN Initiative to improve the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases like Alzheimer's.
"The NIH funding contained in the CURES Act could also lead to the next breakthroughs in the battles against Alzheimer's and cancer. It is very important to research at the Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota, Hormel Institute, and other facilities in Minnesota," Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar also fought to remove a provision from the legislation that would have weakened her Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009, which requires the disclosure of payments from drug and medical device companies to medical personnel.
"I am also pleased that after much effort and communication with both the House and the White House, we got the original House provision stripped from the bill that would have weakened the disclosure of payments from drug companies and medical device companies to medical personnel," said Klobuchar. "I was one of the original sponsors of the Sunshine Act that passed in 2010."
Finally, a leader in the fight to lower the costs of prescription drugs, Klobuchar joined with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Mike Lee (R-UT) to introduce the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act as an amendment to the bill. The CREATES Act would deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives from entering the marketplace.
"Moving forward, I will continue to fight for Congress to pass my bills to bring down the rising costs of prescription drugs, which are impacting families across Minnesota and our country and urgently need to be addressed," said Klobuchar.
As a former Hennepin County Attorney, Klobuchar has long led local and national efforts to curb drug abuse and help people overcome addiction. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which Klobuchar introduced with a bipartisan group of four senators, was signed into law by the President in July. The legislation would encourage states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies in the fight against addiction.
The Anna Westin Act was named in honor of Anna Westin of Chaska, Minnesota, who was diagnosed with anorexia when she was 16-years-old. After completing her sophomore year at the University of Oregon, Anna's health was deteriorating quickly -- facing liver malfunction and dangerously low body temperatures and blood pressure. Despite the urgency of her condition, her family was informed that they had to wait until their insurance company "certified' Anna's treatment, ultimately delaying and limiting the treatment Anna received. After struggling with the disease for five years, Anna committed suicide at the age of 21.
Klobuchar has been a long-standing leader in ensuring that all Americans have access to the mental health services they need. She was a cosponsor of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act that was signed into law in October 2008. The law requires health insurance companies to provide equal coverage of both mental and physical health issues. Klobuchar pushed hard for final regulations for this law, which were issued in December 2013.
Klobuchar is a leader on combating Alzheimer's disease. In June, Klobuchar and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation to expand training and support services for families and caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. She has also consistently pushed her colleagues to support additional funding for Alzheimer's research to help increase treatments and find a cure. In January, Klobuchar and Collins led a letter calling on President Obama to increase our nation's funding for Alzheimer's research as part of his fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request. Last year, Klobuchar introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution declaring that the goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer's by 2025 is an "urgent national priority."