Opinion: The Cures Act will help improve, modernize our mental health system

2011 Getty Images

 (2011 Getty Images)

The United States is the world leader in medical innovation. With the passage Wednesday of the 21st Century Cures Act, the House demonstrated its commitment to this cause and gave hope to the millions of Americans and their loved ones who need it most.

Cures incorporates important provisions that take steps to ensure people who suffer from mental illness get the care and medication they need — just like other patients.

- Kay Granger

The 21st Century Cures Act will reform a slow and outdated Food and Drug Administration approval process and accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of new cures and treatments. This will help patients personalize their health care to meet their individual needs and help doctors adapt to promising new developments in medicine.

Despite the impressive scientific advancement over the past few decades, the Food and Drug Administration has been unable to translate these discoveries into approved treatments. Rather than difficulties and delays, patients deserve access to the best care available. Putting patients at the center of their care goes to the heart of what Cures is all about.

That is why Cures updates clinical trial guidelines and encourages scientific collaboration to help discover and safely deliver new medicines faster – including those for rare diseases. This game-changing legislation also advances critical research on cancer and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.  

In addition, Cures includes landmark reforms that will modernize our mental health system. More than 11 million Americans suffer from severe mental illness and the need for Congress to improve and increase access to mental health benefits has only grown.

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This is especially important for the men and women in uniform who return home from serving overseas and suffer from post-traumatic stress. Those who suffer from this are more likely to become incarcerated and homeless, creating further challenges for them, their families and society down the road. We must take care of those who keep us safe.

Our mental health system is not equipped – and often refuses – to provide care for those with mental illness, especially those suffering from extreme schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Cures incorporates important provisions that take steps to ensure people who suffer from mental illness get the care and medication they need — just like other patients.

Rather than allowing people who suffer from serious mental illness to “fall through the cracks” of our mental health system onto the street or into prison, Cures helps prevent this by discovering and addressing serious mental illness in individuals at an earlier stage. Through this investment, Congress is helping people in the shadows and their families who struggle to care for them, come into the light before their illness deteriorates into crisis.

Across our country, millions of patients and their families are profoundly impacted by disease and illness. Congress has been listening to them, as well as to doctors, researchers and innovators about what needed to be done to create a patient-centered health care infrastructure for the 21st Century.

The 21st Century Cures Act is the result of those conversations, and the strong bipartisan support for this legislation is further evidence of the careful and constructive process undertaken in putting together this once-in-a-generation opportunity to save lives, time and money.

Congresswoman Kay Granger is proud to represent Texas' 12th Congressional District, serving a community she has been an integral part of her entire life. Elected to her 11th term in 2016 by an overwhelming margin, Kay has earned her reputation in Congress as a hard-working, tough and principled leader on the issues that matter most to the people she serves. Her legislative prowess and ability to get things done, widely respected by both policy makers and influencers in Washington alike, led to her recognition by CQ's Roll Call as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Congress. Kay attends the First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth, Texas, and is the mother of three children and grandmother of five. She is an avid and accomplished painter, and enjoys being with her family during spare time.

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