The House is in session today precluding me from joining this important forum sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association Greater New Jersey Chapter. I appreciate the invite.
Special thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association for galvanizing a nation—and world—to confront this devasting disease and for providing patients, caregivers and family members highly accurate and actionable information.
And thank you for inspiring hope—tangible hope—for the 5.7 million Americans who currently suffer from this disease and for their caregivers and loved ones.
Twenty years ago, I cofounded—and continue to this day to cochair—the Congressional Alzheimer’s Task Force. We had 181 lawmakers on the Task Force last year and are reorganizing now for the new congress.
The Task Force is a bipartisan working group designed to educate, sensitize, challenge and mobilize members of Congress and the executive branch to leave no stone unturned in the struggle to mitigate, and someday cure, this dreaded disease.
In 2005 I was the prime author of H.R. 1262—the Ronald Reagan Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act, a comprehensive blueprint for effective action—a bold initiative to double NIH funding for Alzheimer’s to $1.4 billion a year, launch a public education campaign at CDC and provide assistance to caregivers.
Despite having 63 bipartisan cosponsors, the legislation died in committee.
Absolutely undeterred however—and working closely with the Alzheimer’s Association—we continued to strive to achieve these goals.
That law not only created an advisory committee for a whole-of-government approach, but it also created a national strategy with a goal of finding a cure, or a disease-modifying therapy, by 2025.
Research funds have increased each year since.
This year alone—2019—NIH has received $2.3 billion in federal funds for Alzheimer’s Disease research.
And like you, I believe that boosting funds for this critically important research will make an enormous difference.
As you may know, we achieved another legislative milestone at the end of last year.
On December 31, 2018, President Trump signed S.2076, the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Actwhich will among other things, award cooperative agreements for the establishment or support of national or regional centers of excellence in public health practice in Alzheimer’s Disease.
The Act will also promote effective Alzheimer’s interventions and provide funding to state and local public health departments to promote cognitive health, risk reduction, early detection and diagnosis, and the needs of caregivers.
We are making progress.
Almost every day, some new insight and potential breakthrough comes to light.
This past weekend, an article in the Asbury Park Press focused on a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, that suggests that a bacterium that destroys gum tissue is linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Because Alzheimer’s research is now robust and serious and aggressive, the puzzle of causation—and effective treatment—will be solved.