WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District voted today in support of the 21st Century Cures Act, bipartisan legislation that encourages biomedical innovation and the development of new treatment and cures.
The bill increases funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), supporting awards to academic researchers at institutions across the country.
“This legislation is a victory for both patients and scientists. By providing a dedicated stream of funding to NIH it will provide the brightest minds in our country with the funding they need to undertake cutting-edge scientific research that can usher in a new wave of treatments and cures,” Luján said. “The fight against cancer is one that is very personal to my family and to millions of families across the country. Knowing that the top medical researchers will have the resources they need to continue their efforts to find life-saving cures to devastating diseases like cancer provides so many with hope. Today’s vote was an important step forward and I encourage the Senate to move swiftly on this effort.”
The 21st Century Cures Act provides $8.75 billion in mandatory funding over the next five years through the NIH and Cures Innovations Fund, ensuring an additional, supplementary funding stream to NIH.
It directs funds toward high-risk, high-reward research and research performed by early stage investigators. It also strengthens NIH’s focus on diversifying the biomedical workforce by requiring it to focus on participation by scientists from underrepresented communities.
“I am pleased that this legislation supports the recruitment of traditionally underrepresented groups in the scientific workforce,” Luján said. “For America to succeed we need to recognize the importance of increasing women and minority participation in these important STEM fields and make a commitment to building a diverse workforce.”
Additionally, 21st Century Cures includes language based off of bipartisan legislation, the Medicare Part D Patient Safety and Drug Abuse Prevention Act, Luján introduced last Congress with Congressman Gus Bilirakis.
The bill allows Medicare prescription drug plans to develop safe prescribing and dispensing programs to prevent fraud and abuse in the dispensing of controlled substances.
“Prescription drug abuse is a serious issue across New Mexico. It is critical that we take steps to ensure that controlled substances that are prescribed to help patients are only used for the intended purposes and do not fall into the wrong hands. Our provision will help address concerns that we have seen documented within the Medicare Part D program in an effort to reduce substance abuse in our communities,” Luján said.