July 11, 2015
ASA Applauds House Passage of 21st Century Cures Act
On Friday, July 10, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act. The legislation, designed to target and improve medical innovation, was passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 344-77.
According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, this legislation invests in the next generation of cures and treatments and modernizes the entire healthcare infrastructure to help unleash the promise of science and technology, maintaining America's leadership role in health innovation. As part of a continuing effort to secure Congressional support for research into the effects of anesthesia on the pediatric population, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) submitted formal comments to Congress on the importance of investing in this public safety issue earlier this year.
ASA is pleased the Cures Act includes increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and creates an Innovation Fund, a dedicated and offset funding stream of $1.75 billion per year for 5 years dedicated to funding biomedical research through the the NIH and $110 million per year for 5 years for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because research into the effects of anesthesia on the pediatric population is a priority interest of ASA— this provision of H.R. 6 is promising.
ASA is also supportive of the bill’s provision that seeks to ensure interoperability of health information technology. This provision calls for certified electronic health record (EHR) vendors to demonstrate they meet interoperability standards. Clinical data registries, such as ASA’s National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry (NACOR), that are EHR-based are dependent upon the interoperability of health IT. When interoperability is achieved, EHR-based registries are capable of integrating health information from a variety of data sources to be used by providers, researchers and other stakeholders to improve the efficiency and quality of care provided by clinicians, and to improve outcomes for patients.
This legislation will next advance to the U.S. Senate, which is undertaking similar efforts to advance medical innovation. Earlier this year, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Richard Burr (R-NC) released the Innovation for Healthier Americans report as a step of towards crafting similar legislation in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). A whitepaper is expected to be released in the coming months.
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