On Friday, Congress has a historic opportunity to do good for the American people as we consider H.R. 6 — the 21st Century Cures Act — of which I am a proud author. The 21st Century Cures Act invests in the next generation of cures and treatments and modernizes our entire healthcare infrastructure to help unleash the promise of science and technology, maintaining America's leadership role in health innovation.

I am a father of three and a grandfather of four. Watching them all grow up, I see regularly just how precious life is and how quickly things move and change. With the 21st Century Cures Act, we will vote on a bill to help make that precious time a little longer and healthier for all those suffering from diseases. We are also making important policy changes to help keep good jobs in the United States and begin to tackle the cost of disease that will soon overwhelm our national entitlement programs.

Over the past year and a half I have had the opportunity to chair nine hearings in Washington, D.C., and to host a roundtable at home in Lancaster, Pa. We heard from many experts and health leaders about how we can use scientific and technological advances to help patients and find therapies for everything from the rarest conditions to pervasive illnesses like Alzheimer's and heart disease. These diseases have not only a tremendous personal cost but also a huge economic burden on our nation.

We have learned that with targeted investments in research, coupled with regulatory reforms and road maps for greater collaboration among patients, researchers and regulators, we can make tremendous progress in discovering and developing new cures and treatments. Importantly, the 21st Century Cures Act is fully paid for and includes important entitlement reforms. When the innovation fund sunsets in five years, we should be firmly on the path to cures.

My wish for the next generation, my grandchildren and yours, is that they witness the end of some of these terrible diseases and experience the joy of new cures that will change the course of our nation's history, just as the 20th Century was transformed with the vaccine for polio. That is what 21st Century Cures hopes to achieve. Is it a lofty goal? Yes, of course. But there is no goal more important than improving the health and well-being of the American people.

This bill illustrates a rare opportunity in Congress to come together on the thing most important to us all: life. We approached a problem that touches every family by listening first. In the end, this approach has delivered legislation that can truly change our lives, today and for generations to come.

Joe Pitts, a Republican representing Pennsylvania's 16th congressional district, is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.