Tester Supports Life-Saving Medical Research

Senator Votes to Pass The 21st Century Cures Act

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester today voted to pass The 21st Century Cures Act-a bill that helps make important progress in life-saving medical research, public health initiatives, and the ongoing fight against our nation’s opioid epidemic.

“The Cures Act is a step toward improving critical disease research, getting more life-saving drugs and devices to patients, and expanding access to mental healthcare for Montana families,” Tester said. “At a time when healthcare costs are rising, drug overdoses and suicides are some of the leading causes of death, and researchers are on the cusp of curing devastating diseases, these developments are sorely needed. My hope is that Congress will follow up on this legislation with responsible investments to truly improve the health of Montanans.”

The bill authorizes $6.8 billion for these initiatives, including:

  • $4.8 billion over 10 years for the National Institutes of Health, targeted towards precision medicine, brain and neurological research, cancer research, and stem cell treatments.
  • $500 million over 10 years for the Food and Drug Administration to more quickly review and act on drug and medical device applications-a reform that Tester has advocated for in order to help reduce drug prices and increase access to generic drugs. 
  • $1 billion over two years in grants to states for opioid abuse prevention and treatment programs, many of which were established by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that Tester helped pass earlier this year.

“University of Montana researchers receive a significant level of funding from the various NIH programs and those funds are used to address a number of health issues for Montanans including traumatic brain injury, environmental health and seeking cures for a number of diseases,” said Scott Whittenburg, Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship at UM. “What’s more, the NIH’s IDEA program helps the university recruit new faculty researchers and provides mentoring for those faculty so that they may contribute to the next generation of advances in health and medicine.”

“The NIH is our number one source of research funding,” agreed Dr. Renee Reijo Pera, MSU’s Vice President of Research and Economic Development. “And this funding goes toward research that benefits residents throughout the state, so we are thrilled that this legislation has been passed.”

Other major provisions that Tester has supported that are incorporated into The Cures Act include: 

  • The Mental Health Reform Act: which will establish new mental healthcare initiatives, strengthen existing mental health services, and increase Montanans’ access to mental healthcare treatment. 
  • Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization: which funds research, training, and assistance programs that work to prevent suicide, particularly among adolescents.
  • The Small Business Health Care Relief Act: which improves the Affordable Care Act and relieves financial burdens on entrepreneurs by giving small businesses the ability to offer stand-alone health reimbursement arrangements that employees can use for health care expenses, including premiums for individual market insurance plans.

“The 21st Century Cures Act tackles the broad goal of investing in future research to tackle some of America’s most tragic and costly medical conditions while improving the current fight against mental illness, suicide and opiate addiction,” said Matt Kuntz, Executive Director of NAMI Montana.

“The Cures Act is a long-term investment in Montana’s future,” added Dr. Mark Young, Associate Vice President of Research at MSU. “Investing in this kind of research now will lead to a healthier, more prosperous, and economically stable future.”