Waters Urges Robust Funding for Alzheimer’s Research and Patient Support Programs
Waters Urges Robust Funding for Alzheimer's Research and Patient Support Programs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a House Floor "Special Order Hour" on Alzheimer's disease Tuesday, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee and Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, called for robust funding of Alzheimer's research and patient support programs. During the hour organized by Rep. John Garamendi (CA-3), Congresswoman Waters announced her intentions to reintroduce three bills to expand available resources for Alzheimer's research and assist patients, families, and caregivers.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
"I thank my colleague from California, Congressman John Garamendi, for the time, and I commend him for organizing this evening's Special Order Hour on Alzheimer's Disease.
"As the Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, I know how devastating this disease can be for patients, families, and caregivers. The Task Force works on a bipartisan basis to increase awareness of Alzheimer's, strengthen the federal response to the disease, and provide assistance to Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers. I am proud to lead the Task Force along with my returning Co-Chair, Congressman Chris Smith, and incoming Co-Chairs Michael Burgess and Chaka Fattah.
"Alzheimer's is a tragic disease affecting millions of Americans, and it has reached crisis proportions. There is no effective treatment, no means of prevention, nor even a method for slowing the progression of the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), five million Americans were living with Alzheimer's disease in 2013. This number is expected to almost triple to 14 million by the year 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, when the cost of informal care is included, the total cost rises to between $159 billion and $215 billion.
"We must act now to change the trajectory of this disease! The bipartisan supported National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease calls for a cure or an effective treatment for Alzheimer's by the year 2025. Reaching this goal will require a significant increase in federal funding for Alzheimer's research.
"Last December, I joined together with Task Force Co-Chair Congressman Chris Smith to call for a $200 million increase in funding for Alzheimer's research in the President's budget for fiscal year 2016. However, while the President's budget did recognize the importance of Alzheimer's research, it only increased funding by $51 million. This year, I plan to work with my colleagues on the Task Force to make certain Congress appropriates robust funding for Alzheimer's research to meet the urgent need.
"I also plan to reintroduce three bills to expand the available resources for Alzheimer's research and assist patients, families, and caregivers.
"First, I will reintroduce the Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Act. This bill will authorize grants to public and nonprofit organizations to expand training and support services for families and caregivers of Alzheimer's patients. With the majority of Alzheimer's patients living at home, under the care of family and friends, it is important that we ensure these caregivers have access to the training and resources needed to provide proper care.
"Second, I will reintroduce legislation to reauthorize and improve the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program, a small but effective Department of Justice program that helps local communities and law enforcement agencies quickly identify persons with Alzheimer's disease who wander away from their homes and safely reunite them with their families. This program is a valuable resource for first responders. More importantly, it protects vulnerable Alzheimer's patients and brings peace of mind to their families.
"Several years ago, I offered an amendment to continue funding for this program after a congressional committee had proposed to eliminate the program in Fiscal Year 2008. The program received $1 million for that year. The following year, I called for and received $2 million for this important program. Since then, I have made sure this program receives funding every year. However, I am still not happy with the amount of funding. We need to do more to make sure that we get more money for this essential program because it is desperately needed.
"Finally, I will reintroduce legislation to require the U.S. Postal Service to issue and sell a semi-postal stamp, with the proceeds helping to fund Alzheimer's research at the National Institutes of Health. This would encourage concerned individuals to get involved and contribute to Alzheimer's research efforts, just as many have done in the case of the popular and successful Breast Cancer Research Semipostal Stamp.
"Our nation is at a critical crossroads. The situation requires decisive action to search for a cure and protect the millions of Americans currently living with Alzheimer's disease. Together, we must take every possible action to improve treatments for Alzheimer's patients, support caregivers, and invest in research to find a cure for this dreadful disease.
"Once again, I want to thank John Garamendi, my colleague from California, whom I have worked with for many, many years, for again organizing yet another night's Special Order."