On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, the U.S. Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act. This decision comes on the heels of an overwhelming majority vote in the House of Representatives last month. The legislation aims to increase funding for cancer research, the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the Cancer Moonshot, among other health priorities.  

Succeeding in the Senate by a vote of 94–5, the bipartisan-backed legislation provides $6.3 billion in additional spending for a number of healthcare initiatives. The funds will help pay for new cancer research, address the nationwide opioid epidemic, increase the efficiency of drug approvals through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and encourage the use of new technologies in medicine. 

The 21st Century Cures Act also provides funding for Vice President Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which ONS has actively supported since its inception. The bill earmarks $1.8 billion for the Cancer Moonshot, aiming to accelerate oncology research and make a quantum leap in cancer care. Another $3 billion will be provided to the NIH for various initiatives, including Alzheimer research and treatment.  

As an advocate for and stakeholder in the bill, ONS applauds policymakers for their support of 21st Century Cures. "We are pleased and encouraged to see the House and Senate come together and support the 21st Century Cures Act," Brenda Nevidjon, RN, MSN, FAAN, ONS chief executive officer, said. "The increased funds will help accelerate vital cancer research and expedite the FDA approval process, delivering necessary treatments to patients in need." 

President Obama also went on record praising the bill, saying, “We are now one step closer to ending cancer as we know it.” He continued, “The bipartisan passage of the 21st Century Cures Act is an example of the progress we can make when people from both parties work together to improve the health of our families, friends, and neighbors—this bill will make a big difference, and I look forward to signing it as soon as it reaches my desk.” 

ONS will continue to advocate for legislation and policies that support oncology nurses and their patients. To find out more about how you can advocate for your profession, visit ONS’s Advocacy and Policy page.