Congressman Emanuel Cleaver represents the fifth district in the United States House of Representatives. His district includes a portion of Clay County Missouri. This is his December 2, 2016 newsletter. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we publish these communications please click here.
A development this week in Washington D.C. could have a huge impact on many families in my district and around the country.
Earlier this week, the House considered H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act. This bill includes three parts; bipartisan 21st Century Cures provisions, bipartisan Mental Health Reform, and various bipartisan Medicare-related provisions.
The 21st Century Cures bill dedicates $6.3 billion over 10 years for medical research, opioid prevention and FDA innovation. The Cancer Moonshot program spearheaded by Vice President Biden will receive $1.8 billion to increase access to cancer therapies, improve our ability to prevent cancer and detect it earlier. H.R. 34 also establishes a new grant program for adult suicide prevention and crisis response, updates critical mental health and substance abuse programs, and improves treatment options for serious mental illnesses.
Although I have concerns about some aspects of the bill, particularly some of the funding revoked for other prevention programs, the bill is overall very encouraging. The opioid abuse prevention and treatment projects and the mental health reforms are all promising changes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids have killed more than 28,000 people in 2014 – that’s more than any other year on record. At least half of those overdoses involved prescription opioids. In recent years, Missouri has seen a significant increase in heroin overdoses according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, from 69 cases in 2007 to 244 in 2011.
This is an example of both sides of Congress working together to address an issue that has plagued hundreds of families struggling with addiction and mental illness.