(KMSP) - A massive, bipartisan healthcare bill cleared its last major hurdle, and will likely become law. The 21st Century Cures Act, costing more than six billion dollars, brings support to opioid treatment, cancer research, mental health, eating disorders, and much more.
A key provision of the bill provides a billion dollars to take on the opioid-addiction crisis through treatment, training, and education.
“What this really means is the paradigm has shifted from treating substance abuse disorders as strictly a punitive law enforcement issue to now treating it as the healthcare issue it really is,” Jeremiah Gardner, a manager at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, told Fox 9. “One of the things you’ll note in the bill is it doesn’t include funding for sending people to jail or cracking down on enforcement.”
Another portion of the bill, called the Anna Westin Act, requires insurers to treat eating disorders as equals to physical illnesses — including providing residential treatment. The bill is named after a Chaska teen who took her own life after she could not find insured inpatient treatment for her severe anorexia.
“If Anna has been able to access the level of care she needed, she would be alive today,” Kitty Westin, Anna’a mom, told Fox 9.
About $1.8 billion in funding for Vice President’s Joe Biden’s “cancer moonshot” is also included in the bill.
Additionally, the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, backed by Sen. Al Franken, is a part of the larger bill, and includes support for mental health services in the criminal justice system.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar has pushed for the bill for a couple years, and helped get the bipartisan support in a Monday vote.
“This has literally been going on for almost twenty years that Congress has been struggling with this issue,” Sen. Klobuchar told Fox 9. “We have to get a handle on the [opioid] epidemic, and for the first time, Congress is putting their money where their mouth is.”
President Obama supports the 21st Century Cures Act.