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The 21st Century Cures Act is Good News for Those With Special Needs


On Wednesday, December 7th, the Senate passed The 21st Century Cures Act, which includes the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act. Even better news is that President Obama has already stated his intent to sign the legislation. In fact, he said, “This bill will make a big difference, and I look forward to signing it as soon as it reaches my desk.”

Once signed, what the Special Needs Trust means for people with disabilities who have capacity to act on their own behalf is that they can create their own special needs trusts. This eliminates the excessive and unwarranted legal difficulties for those individual who don’t have parents or grandparents.

An Overview

While the Special Needs Trust Act is included, the major thrust of the 21st Century Cures Act is to help speed up the cure for cancer as well as Alzheimer’s through making significant resources available for reforming the discovery, development and delivery of medicines and treatments. For those of us praying for cures for these diseases that have devastated so many lives and families, it will be good news to know that these new reforms include reducing regulatory red tape, breaking down barriers that restrict data sharing and speeding up clinical trials. Once something that is considered a potentially breakthrough device is discovered the review of these devices will also be expedited and new technologies will be promoted.

An article I read says it best, “While the resources needed to develop new cures are costly and time consuming, the potential savings to the broader healthcare system are significant. Updating the regulatory system governing the development of new medicines and treatments will ensure the U.S. remains a world leader in treatment, that the lives of millions will improve, and that costs will be minimized.

Mental Health Reform and Opioid Addiction

The 21st Century Cures Act also includes bringing much needed reform to the issue of mental health and drug addiction. As reports the American Psychological Association President Susan McDaniel as saying, “The bill provides especially detailed instructions to states for boosting mental health care, which most advocates agree is badly neglected across the country. It will increase access to effective, evidence-based care, particularly for those with serious mental illness.”

In addition, the 21st Century Cures Act includes $500 million a year to help states prevent opioid misuse and get better treatment for addicts. According to Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, “These additional resources are particularly critical in rural areas, where rates of opioid misuse and overdose are high, access to treatment is limited, and patients who seek treatment are often met with waitlists that can mean the difference between life and death.”

The passage of this Act through the Senate is great news for the entire U.S. population. It will bring relief in the care of our elders, as well as the men and women who have served our country in the military. It brings much needed dignity to those with special needs. And another great bit of news is that The 21st Century Cures package contains no tax increases. That’s something that affects every taxpaying American.


Looking to find an experienced estate lawyer in the Georgia area who is skilled in asset protection and estate plan preparation? Shannon Pawley is an attorney in Georgia with expertise in estate planning and asset protection. Shannon can provide assistance with creating an estate plan to include making a will and how to establish a trust properly. If you have questions about asset protection or questions about making an estate plan, reach out to Shannon and she will be glad to help answer all the estate planning questions you might have!

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