U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement after the Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which will bring lifesaving drugs and devices to market more quickly, as well as boost cancer and Alzheimer’s disease research, provide grants to states to fight opioid abuse, and much more. Thune authored multiple provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, which will soon head to the president for his signature.
“Today the Senate delivered a victory for the American people with passage of the 21st Century Cures Act,” said Thune. “This bipartisan legislation will dramatically advance medical research and innovation, opening up new possibilities for cures and improvements to patients’ lives. I applaud passage of this bill and ask the president to sign it into law as soon as he receives it.”
The 21st Century Cures Act contains several Thune-authored provisions, including:
- The Continuing Access to Hospitals (CAH) Act of 2016 (H.R. 5613), which would extend through calendar year 2016 a prohibition preventing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from enforcing direct supervision policy for outpatient therapeutic services, a harmful regulation that would jeopardize access to therapy services in rural areas. Sen. Thune introduced S. 3129, the Senate companion to H.R. 5613. Thune has championed efforts that have prevented enforcement of this regulation since CMS announced it in 2008.
- A provision based on the Patient Access to Durable Medical Equipment Act (S. 2736), which provides relief to durable medical equipment (DME) providers in non-competitively bid areas like South Dakota until January 1, 2017. An extension of the current phase-in of reimbursement changes is necessary to ensure that Medicare beneficiary access for products such as oxygen tanks and c-pap machines are not adversely impacted following Medicare’s changes to reimbursement in areas like South Dakota.
- Another provision similar to one contained in S. 2736 that addresses the underlying issues with DME reimbursement in states like South Dakota. Consideration of these rural factors are essential to ensure that seniors living in rural areas do not lose access to these products.
- A provision similar to the Rural ACO Provider Equity Act of 2015 (S. 2261), which allows Medicare services furnished by community health centers and rural health clinics to count toward beneficiary assignment within an accountable care organization, which will allow these facilities to more easily participate in a new model of care that is focused on providing coordinated, high-quality care.
- A provision based on the Family Health Care Accessibility Act of 2015 (S. 2151), legislation that removes barriers that currently prevent health care professionals from volunteering their services at cost-effective, high-quality primary and preventative health care facilities, known as community health centers. This Thune-led provision will amend the Public Health Service Act to provide Federal Tort Claims Act medical malpractice coverage to health care professionals who volunteer at CHCs.