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Cures 2.0 Bill Introduced 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) have introduced the Cures 2.0 bill, designed to change how America provides care for patients by fast-tracking new treatments and innovations. The bipartisan bill would fund programs at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as create the $6.5 billion Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). 

“The federal government has shown, time and time again, that when it’s given the resources needed to accomplish the impossible, there’s not much it cannot do,” DeGette and Upton said in a press release. By creating ARPA-H, we will be bringing together some our nation’s greatest minds to help find cures to these devastating diseases. And we will – for the first time – be putting the full weight of the federal government behind the ongoing efforts to end these terrible illnesses as we know them – which is a mission that all of us should be able to get behind.”

ARPA-H would be in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and be responsible for finding new treatments and cures for various diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, among others. The bill includes funding to operate ARPA-H for the first three years. The program is modeled after the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is responsible for significant inventions, such as the Internet and GPS. 

The director of ARPA-H would be a presidential appointee with a five-year term. The director would have the authority to approve and terminate project funding, establish milestones, and coordinate with other federal research agencies. There would also be a small number of program managers responsible for choosing which projects to pursue. 

Aside from ARPA-H, Cures 2.0 would transform how Medicare covers new treatments and technologies, increase access to telehealth services for Medicare and Medicaid patients, provide training and educational programs for at-home caregivers, require more diversity in clinical trials, and prioritize patients as part of the decision-making process associated with their illness. The bill includes steps towards a nationwide study investigating the effects of long COVID and a national vaccine and testing distribution strategy for future pandemics. 

Cures 2.0 has support from various groups in the healthcare industry. The American Medical Association President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D., stated, “The American Medical Association commends Reps. Diana DeGette and Fred Upton for introducing the Cures 2.0 Act and looks forward to working with Congress to ensure passage of this critical bipartisan legislation.” Likewise, Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley stated, “the Cures 2.0 Act would advance such crucial objectives as addressing long-COVID, bolstering pandemic preparedness, fostering clinical trial diversity, empowering early diagnosis of rare diseases, incentivizing the development of urgently needed antibiotics, and laying the foundation for joint efforts with the Administration to foster accelerated access to breakthrough medical technologies.” 

Read a summary of the bill here.