Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins delivered remarks at the UsAgainstAlzheimer’s 6th Annual Trish Vradenburg Reception, where she was recognized for founding the Alzheimer’s Task Force in the Senate and received a 2019 Congressional Champions Award.
“Combatting Alzheimer’s requires a unified national effort that transcends politics,” said Senator Collins. “I was delighted to join UsAgainstAzheimer’s to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a major step forward in that effort. In 1999, when I founded the Congressional Alzheimer’s Task Force in the Senate, there was virtually no focus on Alzheimer’s in Washington. Nine years ago, I co-authored with then-Senator Evan Bayh the bipartisan National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which set the primary goal of preventing and effectively treating the disease. That legislation created an expert council, which calculated that $2 billion per year would be needed to make progress toward that admittedly ambitious goal. Last year, I worked with my colleagues to secure the largest funding increase for Alzheimer’s in history, bringing us above the $2 billion milestone for the first time to a total of $2.34 billion.”
“Biomedical research and a public health approach—combined with the hard work and advocacy of this outstanding organization—provide the key to saving lives and charting a brighter future,” Senator Collins continued.
The rate of Americans dying from dementia has more than doubled in the United States since the year 2000. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and the risk increases with age. An estimated 5.5 million Americans—including 27,000 Mainers—are currently living with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s also costs our nation $290 billion a year, including $195 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid, making it our nation’s most expensive disease. If we continue along this trajectory, Alzheimer’s is projected to affect nearly 14 million Americans and surpass $1 trillion in costs by 2050.
UsAgainstAlzheimer’s is an innovative nonprofit organization committed to stopping Alzheimer’s disease by 2020. This annual dinner was named in memory of WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s founder Trish Vradenburg and has raised millions of dollars to support the work of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s since 2013. The theme of this year’s dinner was “Be Brain Powerful,” a campaign to provide tools and resources to improve brain health and activity.
As the Chairman of the Aging Committee and a founder of the Alzheimer’s Task Force in the Senate, Senator Collins has championed efforts in Congress to fight Alzheimer’s.
In 2011, Senator Collins authored the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) with then-Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), which set the national goal of preventing and treating Alzheimer’s by the year 2025. Last year, Senator Collins secured an additional $425 million—the largest increase in history—for Alzheimer’s research, bringing our total investment to $2.34 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2019. It builds on significant increases Senator Collins has secured in recent years, including $414 million in FY 2018, $400 million in FY 2017, and $350 million FY 2016. Senator Collins recently expressed her strong support for the $2.822 billion NIH estimates it will need in FY 2021 to find a means of reaching the national goal by 2025.
In December 2018, the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, legislation Senator Collins authored to create a public health infrastructure to combat Alzheimer’s disease, was signed into law. Earlier this year, Senator Collins joined bipartisan groups in introducing the Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act, which would allow Alzheimer’s patients younger than age 60 to access support programs and services, and the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, which would help improve Medicare beneficiaries’ access to a care planning session if they are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.