As we come to the end of President Obama’s administration, it is time to look back on the past eight years and the administration’s impact on the delivery of the nation’s health care. While the Affordable Care Act (signed into law early in the President’s administration on March 23rd, 2010) is a significant achievement in that it provided many Americans access to health care, one cannot dismiss the President’s transformative commitment to precision or personalized medicine.

In 2006 as a then junior senator, President Obama introduced the Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act to improve access to and utilization of valid, reliable genetic tests and to secure the promise of personalized medicine for all Americans. While neither President Obama’s bill nor subsequent versions were enacted into law, many of the elements of the bills were incorporated into, and expanded upon, in the recently enacted 21st Century Cures Act (the “Act”).  Signed into law by the President on December 13th, 2016, the Act passed the House of Representatives (392-26) and Senate (94-5) with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The Act secures $4.8 billion in funding for the necessary infrastructure to advance precision medicine. This includes funding to the National Institutes of Health to support the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative ($1.5 billion) and to Vice President Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative ($1.8 billion). Spending under the Act will advance precision medicine more specifically by developing:

  • New approaches for addressing scientific, medical, public health and regulatory issues;
  • New genomic-based technologies;
  • New private-public partnerships to better leverage data sources and interpretation;
  • New expanded sources of genetic and clinical information; and
  • Improved regulations and laws to protect human participants and their private health care information.

We can all look back with gratitude to President Obama’s leadership in the advancement of personalized medicine and the modernization of the tools necessary to advance its promise.

A copy of the Bill and a concise summary provided by The Energy and Commerce Committee can be found here.