Remarks of President Barack Obama as Prepared for Delivery
The White House
December 3, 2016
Hi, everybody. On the first day of my administration, I promised to restore science to its rightful place. I told you we would unleash American innovation and technology to tackle the health challenges of our time. Over the last eight years, we’ve delivered on that promise in many ways, both big and small -- including, of course, providing health coverage to 20 million more Americans, and making health care more affordable for all Americans.
Right now we have the chance to put our best minds to work one more time -- and in a big way. There’s a bill in Congress that could help unlock cures Alzheimer’s, end cancer as we know it, and help people seeking treatment for opioid addiction finally get the help they need. It’s called the 21st Century Cures Act. It’s an opportunity to save lives, and an opportunity we just can’t miss.
This bill would do a lot of good things at once. Let me tell you about five of them:
First, it will make real investments this year to combat the heroin and prescription drug epidemic that’s plaguing so many of our communities. Drug overdoses now take more lives every year than traffic accidents, and deaths from opioid overdoses have nearly quadrupled since 1999. Under Obamacare, health plans in the Marketplace have to include coverage for treatment, but there’s more we need to do. For nearly a year, I’ve been calling for this investment so hundreds of thousands of Americans can get the treatment they need, and I’m glad Congress is finally getting it done.
The second thing the Cures Act does is make a significant investment in Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot. In my State of the Union Address this year, I set a goal of making America the country that ends cancer once and for all -- and I put the Vice President in charge of Mission Control. This bill will allow us to invest in promising new therapies, in new ways to detect and prevent cancer, and to develop more vaccines for cancer just as we have them for measles or mumps. Joe’s done an incredible job -- this bill is a chance for Congress to do its part, too.
Third, we’ll be giving researchers the resources they need to help identify ways to treat, cure, and prevent all kinds of brain disorders. Alzheimer’s. Epilepsy. Traumatic Brain Injury. And it also supports the Precision Medicine Initiative, an effort we started to bring doctors and data together to develop treatments and health care that one day can be tailored specifically to you. That can lead to some big breakthroughs.
Fourth, the Cures Act includes bipartisan mental health reforms, including important programs for suicide prevention.
And fifth, we’re making sure the FDA incorporates patients’ voices -- your voices -- into the decisions they make as they develop drugs.
So that’s what the 21st Century Cures Act is all about. Like all good legislation, it reflects compromise. This week, the House passed it overwhelmingly, and in bipartisan fashion. The Senate will vote in the next few days, and I hope they’ll do the same. I’ll sign it as soon as it reaches my desk, because like a lot of you, I’ve lost people I love to cancer. I hear every day from Americans whose loved ones are suffering from addiction and other debilitating diseases. And I believe we should seize every chance we have to find cures as soon as possible. When it’s your family, hope can’t come soon enough.
Thanks, everybody, and have a great weekend.