Senators Collins And Markey Call For Increased Alzheimer's Funding In Federal Spending Bill

            WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), who co-chair the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and have been leaders in the effort to increase federal funds directed to the disease, are calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to include in the final FY 2015 spending package a $100 million increase in funding for the National Institute on Aging (NIA). The increase in spending would be above FY 2014 levels and help to further advance research to better prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease, which affects 5.2 million Americans. The Senators have also called for greater support for Alzheimer’s public health and caregiver programs.
            The increased funding that Senators Collins and Markey support would build upon $100 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for Alzheimer’s research that was included in last year’s Omnibus spending bill. The Senators support a national goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s disease by 2025 and believe this increased funding would help advance that goal.
            Text of the letter that Senators Collins and Markey recently sent to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee follows:
Dear Chairman Mikulski and Ranking Member Shelby:
            As you work to assemble a final FY 2015 spending package, we urge you to include the $100 million increase above FY 2014 levels for the National Institute on Aging (NIA) that the Senate included in its draft Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bill.  We also urge you to include within the final legislation the resources provided in the Senate draft bill to support Alzheimer’s public health and caregiver programs, and that you consider potential opportunities to increase further any of these amounts.
            In addition to the human suffering it causes, Alzheimer’s poses tremendous health and economic challenges for our nation.  Alzheimer’s is the nation’s third leading cause of death behind only heart disease and cancer, and the only disease in the top ten without an effective way to prevent it, cure it, or even slow its progression.  At a time when Alzheimer’s is costing $214 billion a year, including $150 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid, we are spending less than $600 million a year on Alzheimer’s research.
            The Committee has already laid a foundation toward meeting the challenges posed by Alzheimer’s.  Thanks to the increased support for Alzheimer’s provided in the Fiscal Year 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill, the National Institutes of Health is supporting a number of cutting-edge Alzheimer’s research projects.  Including an additional $100 million increase above the Fiscal Year 2014 level will move us closer to the level of annual public research funding leading Alzheimer’s disease researchers have estimated is needed to maximize our chances of achieving the national goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.  It will also demonstrate further the resolve behind our national goal, particularly at a time when other nations are looking to the United States for leadership and are beginning to take similar measures.
            We understand the challenges you face in finalizing the FY 15 appropriations package.  While our country faces serious economic challenges, supporting individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and their caregivers is both a moral imperative and fiscal necessity.