Congress Set to Vote on 1,000 Page Omnibus Health Care Spending Bill
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on an updated version of the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34). Sponsored by Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), this 996-page document appropriates an additional $6.3 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among other programs, to increase medical research and speed up the drug development and approval process.
While additional medical research spending to combat diseases can potentially help patients, this is not the role of the federal government. The private sector is more than capable of development medical cures for American citizens in a more efficient and effective manner. Allowing politicians influenced by thousands of health care lobbyists in Washington, D.C., to pick and choose what medical research facilities receive taxpayer funding is bad policy.
But even if it were good policy, the NIH already receives $33 billion a year in taxpayer dollars that can be used to develop life-saving cures or new treatments. In addition, Congress failed to pay for the additional spending in real dollars for the 21st Century Cures Act, despite the fact that the federal government is nearly $20 trillion in debt. In fact, $3.5 billion of this supposedly “pay for” bill uses funds from Obamacare, a law Republicans in Congress have repealed in the past and promise to repeal for good under the Trump Administration. Congress cannot have its cake and eat it too.
Now is not the time for Congress to pass a 1,000 page omnibus health care spending bill in the middle of a lame-duck session right before a new President is sworn into office. Heritage Action concludes its opposition to the 21st Century Cures Act in a letter to Capitol Hill: “The 21st Century Cures Act embodies the big-spending ailments that the federal government desperately needs to be cured from – for the sake of the fiscal health of our nation and the wallets of our taxpayers.” Congress should reject the 21st Century Cures Act and refocus its health care efforts on fully repealing Obamacare and enacting patient-centered health care reform.