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Letter to the editor: Lawmakers: Support Alzheimer's acts

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 12:01 am

In a recent action prompted by a meeting with Alzheimer’s advocates, Rep. Marlin Stutzman drafted letters to the House chair and ranking member of appropriations to ask for an additional $200 million in Alzheimer’s research funding for the 2015 fiscal year.

This increase in overall funding for Alzheimer’s at the National Institutes for Health is required to meet the goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025. The disparity between spending and research for Alzheimer’s is striking: For every $100 NIH has to spend on Alzheimer’s research Medicare and Medicaid are spending $26,500 caring for those with the illness. Similar letters of support from Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly are needed in the Senate.

Advocates for forward progress in the fight to end Alzheimer’s regularly correspond with our members of Congress. Currently in committees are two legislative bills to improve the future of those with Alzheimer’s and those who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 709/H.R. 1507) seeks to improve care and services by increasing early diagnosis and providing access to support services. The Alzheimer’s Accountability Act (S. 219/H.R. 4351) will require NIH to submit directly to Congress an annual Alzheimer’s research budget proposal. This increases accountability of both NIH and Congress to fully implement the National Alzheimer’s Plan.

Additional phone calls, emails and letters to their offices could serve to increase their awareness and educate them on the importance of adding their names as co-sponsors to these acts currently in committee. A promise to consider a yes vote if they come to the floor is not a commitment: We need their commitment as co-sponsors now to insure the proposals will come to a vote. Ask them to make that commitment today.

Jana Powell, Alzheimer’s Association ambassador to Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District