A sweeping biomedical bill moving through Congress pulls partly from a mental health bill proposed last year by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.
The 21st Century Cures Act, passed Wednesday by the House, would help drug and medical device companies win swifter government approval of their products and boost disease research, but it also calls for mental health reform.
The bill includes language from Collins’ Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.
That aspect of the bill calls for “supporting mental health courts and intervention teams and increasing training for law enforcement officers who are often the first to engage individuals with mental health conditions,” Collins said.
“The ongoing mental health crisis affects all of our communities, and we designed this legislation to bring relief to a system in which jails care for more mental health patients than medical facilities do,” he said.
“The common-sense approach to mental health treatment complements criminal justice reform efforts and ultimately serves the law enforcement community, overburdened court systems, mental health sufferers and the taxpayers, whose money goes to public health and safety measures.”
The bipartisan, 996-page bill moves to the Senate, where approval is expected next week.
“We are on the cusp of something special, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform how we treat disease,” said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and an author of the legislation.
Not everyone agreed.
Rep. Rose DeLauro, D-Conn., said that while the bill contained “noble goals that I share,” its relaxation of some standards for federal drug approvals was dangerous and “neglects the very people clinical trials are meant to help, that is the patients.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.