November 17, 2016 at 2:12 pm ET
Upton Says Cures, Mental Health Nearly Ready for Floor Vote
Congress will likely vote on a medical innovation bill that will include mental health legislation after lawmakers return from Thanksgiving recess, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton said.
“It’s not quite done, but it in essence is,” Upton told reporters on Thursday. “There’s barely an I or a T that needs to be dotted or crossed.”
Lawmakers have been negotiating a final number for National Institutes of Health funding in the 21st Century Cures Act, which aims to speed the development of medical cures and will also include funding for the White House Cancer “moonshot.” The House passed a version of the bill last summer, but it stalled in the Senate this year over the NIH funding.
Members also say they’ve reached a consensus on a mental health bill, which is expected to pass alongside Cures. Upton said the mental health measure could either be offered as an amendment, or be part of the total bill.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who helped craft a Senate mental health bill this year, told reporters that final details on where to send funding and when are still being hammered out. Additional funding to address opioid addictions is also part of discussions, he said.
“Time is short, but I think we have a great chance to get the mental health bill done as part of Cures,” he said.”I think Republicans and Democrats are committed to getting Cures and the mental health bill done by the end of the year. I think it’s a very short list of what both Republicans and Democrats want to get done, but mental health is on the list.”
A congressional aide confirmed that opioid funding is part of the discussions and will be included in a final package.
An earlier version of this report misstated when Upton made his comments to reporters.