As the 114th
Congress and the Obama Administration wind down, legislators and agencies have rushed to complete work on critical pending items. Most notably, the House and Senate both passed long-debated bipartisan legislation to bolster medical research and patient care, the 21st Century Cures Act
(H.R. 34). Over the next ten years, “Cures” provides $1.4 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative, $1.56 billion for the BRAIN Initiative, $1.8 billion for cancer research, and $30 million for regenerative medicine using adult stem cells, all at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mechanism that provides this funding is designed to free up discretionary resources so they can be applied to increase the overall NIH budget, and further support academic research centers along with clinical and translational investigators across the country. H.R. 34 is far-sweeping and also includes provisions to establish a neurological conditions surveillance system as well as make changes to the Local Coverage Determination Process used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Congress also opted not to pass the pending Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations bills before adjourning. As an alternative, a Continuing Resolution was enacted to keep most federal programs operating at their FY 2016 levels until April of 2017. This stop-gap measure will allow the incoming Congress to complete appropriations for FY 2017 while also making any adjustments to funding levels or policy initiatives.
There is significant uncertainty as to what changes are in store for the US health care system in general as the new administration continues to make federal appointments and set its agenda. The AANEM policy department will continue to track changes in Congress and keep members apprised of any impact those changes may have on neuromuscular and EDX physicians.