Alexander on FOX News Sunday: Tennessean’s Amazing Eyesight Recovery Underscores Need for Congress to Pass 21st Century Cures Now

Posted on August 21, 2016

FOX’s Shannon Bream highlights bipartisan biomedical innovation legislation as way to “spur cures in the short term and money-saving solutions over the long term”

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 “You would think that if President Obama, a Republican House, and a bipartisan Senate all are for this, we could get it done. That’s why I’m optimistic.” – Lamar Alexander

NASHVILLE, August 21 – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today joined FOX News Sunday to underscore Tennessean Doug Oliver’s amazing eyesight recovery and the need for Congress to pass 21st Century Cures now – unleashing biomedical innovation and giving more Americans access to more life-changing treatments and cures. 

Telling the story of Oliver, who was blind and now can see, FOX host Shannon Bream said, “After beating the odds, Doug Oliver is inspiring Congress to work together to help others gain access and to fund medical studies that could immediately change lives. ... Oliver is lending his voice to a bipartisan coalition of senators hoping to pass legislation that will make cutting-edge treatments both more accessible and more affordable. By rolling back unnecessary regulations and funding viable studies – their aim is to spur cures in the short term and money-saving solutions over the long term.” 

Nashville resident Oliver was blind for a decade and regained his sight and driver’s license last year after participating in a clinical trial in Florida, where a doctor removed stem cells from Doug’s hip, spun them in an FDA-cleared centrifuge, and injected them into his eyes. 

Alexander chairs the Senate health committee, which has passed 19 bipartisan bills with the goal of spurring more life-changing safe treatments and cures like the treatment that helped Oliver. The House has already passed legislation – 344 to 77 – with those same goals. Of Oliver’s story, Alexander has said, “his is just one we could tell of the remarkable pace of biomedical research today, and passing 21st Century Cures will mean access for more Americans to these kinds of cutting edge medical innovations.”

Alexander told Bream on FOX today, “Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, says within the next 10 years, we’ll be using stem cells from your own body to restore a diseased heart. Up until now, you’ve got to have a heart transplant. He says we’ll have a vaccine for Zika, a vaccine for HIV/AIDS. He believes we’ll be able to identify Alzheimer’s before you see its symptoms.”

Bream said, “The House has already passed its version of the legislation, and, although it isn’t an exact mirror to the package of 19 bills the Senate is hoping to pass, House Speaker Paul Ryan has agreed to work out the differences in a conference this fall – giving supporters real hope that it will reach President Obama’s desk before the end of the year and that he’ll sign something that skeptics say rarely comes together anymore in Washington – a major legislative package hammered out by crossing the aisle.”

Alexander concluded, “You would think that if President Obama, a Republican House, and a bipartisan Senate all are for this, we could get it done. That’s why I’m optimistic.”

Alexander, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) have all said Congress should pass 21st Century Cures when it returns in September.

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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