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21st Century Cures Act signed into law, affects rural hospitals like HAMC

By Staff | Dec 23, 2016

President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law on Tuesday, December 13. The act aims to increase funding for medical research, help regulate drugs and medical devices, and provide services in the areas of mental health care, biomedical research, cancer and more.

Obama’s signing of the act stemmed largely from his personal experiences with cancer, he’s said. His mother passed away from cancer when she was two-and-a-half years younger than he is now, as he stated at the signing. The act is also dedicated to Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau Biden, who died of a brain tumor in May 2015.

“It’s not always easy to remember, but being able to honor those we have lost in this way and to know that we may be able to prevent other families from feeling that same loss, that makes it a good day,” Obama said before the signing. “I’m confident that it will lead to better years and better lives for millions of Americans.”

The bill has $6.3 billion in overall funding to be used over the next decade;$1.8 billion of funding is dedicated to cancer research, a part of the bill that has been renamed the “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot.” Other provisions include $1 billion for opioid abuse prevention and $4.8 billion for biomedical research funding.

The Food and Drug Administration will also receive $500 million to make clinical trials for drugs and devices more effective.

The Cures Act is largely geared towards smaller rural areas, with a provision that would help to increase access to outpatient therapeutic services in rural hospitals, including drug infusions, blood transfusions, outpatient psychiatric services, wound treatment and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services.

“As far as the Cures Act goes in the fight against cancer, I’m really proud to say that we are ahead of the act, in that way,” Heart of America Medical Center CEO Patrick Branco said. “We recognize the local need to provide care for the people of Rugby and the surrounding areas, which is why we are building a state-of-the-art cancer care suite.”

HAMC’s cancer care suite will include a private infusion area that will allow for two patients to receive treatment at the same time and a pharmacy compounding area, certified to make chemotherapeutic medications.

“I have no doubt that this act will have a positive impact,” Branco said. “What we will be asking ourselves is if there is anything that we can transfer from the Act into the cancer care center here at HAMC.”

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