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21st Century Cures Act will save lives, money

Over the years, you might have concluded that Congress doesn‘t do the best job of curing the ailments of the communities its members represent. Too often, it seems government just dumps a bunch of pills down our throat to ease the symptoms, but not get at the root of the problem.

You‘€™d be right, and that‘s why I and many of my freshmen Republican colleagues of the 114th Congress asked you to send us here in the first place: to look for common-sense ways to heal and strengthen our country through grassroots solutions — not top-down regulations.

So when I see bills such as the 21st Century Cures Act come across my desk, it gives me hope that we’€™re turning a corner. As a co-sponsor of this important piece of legislation, I was pleased to see it pass the House earlier this month in a bipartisan fashion, and with overwhelming input from stakeholders at all levels, across the nation.

When we think about a 21st century approach to health care, we think of conquering illnesses that ravish nations, and eradicating the rare diseases that snuff out the lives of our loved ones. Of the 10,000 diseases we know about, experts tell us we only have cures for about 500 of them.

The United States continues to be an innovative leader in researching and developing such cures, yet the myriad policies governing this important work can‘t be one-size-fits-all. Every disease is different, and the path to every cure will be, too.

How do we overcome this challenge in a modern way?

The 21st Century Cures Act not only encourages better research collaboration along this journey, it incorporates the patient perspective into the process — giving researchers more meaningful feedback, and ensuring the FDA hears directly from patients. That‘€™s the real beauty of this piece of legislation: an increased focus on the patient, not the advancement of a bloated bureaucracy.

The more targeted clinical trials this bill enables — by cutting red tape — will help get therapies and cures fielded sooner, and in a more cost-effective way. Institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas will be able to give more hope to the countless families suffering from long-known debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer‘€™s. And 7,000 rare diseases will see more attention through the new economic incentives this bill outlines, a victory for families of those who struggle to bring much-needed consideration to lesser-known, yet serious ailments.

All this, and you might be asking: "How much is this going to cost me, the taxpayer?"

I asked the same question. The answer is encouraging, especially to fiscal conservatives.

Not only does the 21st Century Cures Act help keep jobs here at home, it also reduces the deficit by $500 million, according to the Energy and Commerce Committee. The Congressional Budget Office tells us it will be fully paid for and eventually save billions in Medicare and Medicaid expenses. All told, the bill will yield $12 billion in savings, which is invested back into the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, giving them the tools needed to comply with this regulation.

Ultimately, I am excited to see this Congress do something so meaningful that will have significant effects for patients in my district, across the nation and around the world, for generations to come.

Thank goodness we‘re taking a step away from pill-popping panaceas and a step toward innovative, strategic solutions for the very real illnesses we all want to eliminate.

Cresent Hardy represents Nevada‘s 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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