Congresswoman Waters Urges Robust Funding for Alzheimer’s Programs in FY 2015 and FY 2016
Congresswoman Waters Urges Robust Funding for Alzheimer's Programs in FY 2015 and FY 2016
December 3, 2014
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, urged leaders of the House Appropriations Committee to increase funding for Alzheimer's research by at least $100 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 and called on the President to include robust funding for Alzheimer's programs in his budget for FY 2016. Her statement was submitted for inclusion in the Congressional Record as part of a "Special Order Hour," organized last night by Rep. John Garamendi (CA-3), who is a member of the Task Force. The Congresswoman's statement follows:
"As the Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, I know how devastating this disease can be on patients, families, and caregivers. The Task Force works on a bipartisan basis to increase awareness of Alzheimer's, strengthen the federal commitment to improving the lives of those affected by the disease, and assist the caregivers who provide their needed support.
Alzheimer's disease in the U.S. is at crisis proportions. As our population ages, the number of persons affected by this brain disorder are expected to triple by 2050. The costs associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are also growing at an unsustainable rate. A recent RAND study of adults ages 70 and older found that the total economic cost of dementia in 2010 was estimated to be $109 billion for direct care alone. That is higher than the cost of both heart disease and cancer. Furthermore, the economic cost of dementia rises to $159 billion to $215 billion when the cost of informal care is included.
In the U.S., someone develops Alzheimer's every 67 seconds. According to recent data, women have a 1 in 6 estimated lifetime risk of developing the disease at age 65, while the risk for men is nearly 1 in 11. The Alzheimer's Association estimates as many as 16 million Americans over age 65 could suffer from Alzheimer's by 2050. It is now the fifth leading cause of death in my home state of California.
Alzheimer's has a devastating impact upon families. Right now nearly 15 million people, mostly family members, provide unpaid care for individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia, a market value of more than $220.2 billion. In California alone, about 1.5 million unpaid caregivers grapple with the tremendous challenges of Alzheimer's disease or dementia every day. Caregivers include spouses, children, and even grandchildren. As compared to caregivers for other diseases, Alzheimer's caregivers disproportionately report being forced to miss work, reduce work hours, quit their jobs, or change jobs due to caregiving demands. They are more likely to experience financial hardship, report health difficulties, experience emotional stress and suffer from sleep disturbance.
The bipartisan supported National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease calls for a cure or an effective treatment for Alzheimer's by 2025. In an effort to meet this goal, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education approved a budget for fiscal year 2015 that calls for an additional $100 million in funding for the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to expand Alzheimer's disease research. NIA, along with other institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are supporting a number of promising Alzheimer's disease research projects, including cutting-edge "prevention" trials that are studying whether or not the disease can be prevented or slowed substantially by administering treatments earlier in the disease process.
I am urging the leaders of the House Appropriations Committee to include at least the additional $100 million for the NIA in the final budget package for FY 2015. This modest increase in Alzheimer's research funding will provide vital resources to support meritorious Alzheimer's disease research projects. This action will also demonstrate further resolve in support of our national priority of eradicating this insidious brain disorder.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education also included language directing NIH to submit a professional judgment budget for Alzheimer's disease research. As a cosponsor of the Alzheimer's Accountability Act (HR 4351), I believe that unfiltered information specifying the resources necessary to meet the goals and objectives laid out in the National Plan would provide Congress with a valuable tool for setting research and service priorities.
I also plan to urge the President to include robust funding for Alzheimer's research and caregiver support services in his fiscal year 2016 budget, which the President will be submitting to Congress early next year. Increased funding for Alzheimer's programs will allow us to meet these challenges head on and enhance our chances of meeting the goals articulated in the National Plan.
As we continue to search for a cure, our nation is at a critical crossroads that requires decisive action to assure the safety and welfare of the millions of Americans with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Together, let us commit to take every possible action to improve treatments for Alzheimer's patients, support caregivers, and invest in research to find a cure for this disease."