Cures 2.0 legislation introduced: Would fund disease research, telehealth expansion

The "Cures 2.0" bill, if signed into law, would expand medical research, aid development of new therapies and expand telehealth.

Editor's note: This article was first published on Chief Healthcare Executive.

Healthcare and research advocates are cheering the introduction of a new bill that supporters say will spur new cures and therapies and expand telehealth access.

U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Fred Upton, R-Mich., introduced the “Cures 2.0” bill Tuesday. The measure would create the new federal research agency proposed by President Joe Biden: the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H.

The bill would offer $6.5 billion to finance the agency for three years, the amount the White House requested.

The agency is designed to undertake novel, groundbreaking research to help lead to breakthroughs in treatments for cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses. In a news release, the lawmakers said the new research agency would be overseen by a small group of managers and they would have the freedom to pursue “high risk, high reward” research projects.

The lawmakers, crossing party lines to craft the bill, offered bold predictions about the potential of the new research agency and other provisions in the bill designed to speed up cures.

“It will completely reshape the future of biomedical research in this country,” DeGette said in a joint statement with Upton shown on Twitter.

“This legislation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to push our country’s research potential beyond what we ever could have imagined,” Upton said.

Several research and healthcare advocacy groups came out in support of the legislation and are urging Congress to approve it.

Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America, said in a statement the bill “would dramatically strengthen our nation’s R&D architecture.”

The new research agency is the centerpiece of the bill. However, the lawmakers said the measure aims to invest more in telehealth, COVID-19 research, training for caregivers and a host of other areas.

“It will make healthcare more accessible,” DeGette said. “It will make breakthrough therapies available to patients sooner. And it will help us better understand the effects we don’t even know enough about, such as COVID.”

The lawmakers are just introducing the bill, so it still must clear both the House and Senate before landing on the president's desk.

The bill still needs to pass both the House and Senate and be signed by the President.

Here is a summary with more details on the bill and a link to a copy of the 173-page legislation.

Lawmakers are also working on the 2022 federal budget, which could offer big increases for health and research programs.

Read the full article at Chief Healthcare Executive.