Friday, September 21, 2012 was World Alzheimer's Action Day, a day set aside to raise awareness for the need to continue research to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5.4 million people are currently living with Alzheimer's disease in the United States, including at least 800,000 who live alone. Unless something is done to change the trajectory of the disease, it is projected that as many as 76,000 Arkansans will have Alzheimer's by 2025, and as many as 16 million Americans by 2050. The cost of caring for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias is estimated to total $200 billion in 2012 and is projected to increase to $1.1 trillion per year by mid-century.
It is clear that Alzheimer's disease is a growing epidemic, but please know that as a member of the Congressional Alzheimer's Caucus, I am devoted to increasing funding for important Alzheimer's research, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to make important advances toward this initiative.
In fact, in 2010, I voted to enact the National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA), which is bipartisan legislation unanimously approved by Congress and signed into law by the President in January, 2011. NAPA required the creation of an annually updated national strategic plan to address the rapidly escalating Alzheimer's crisis.
Additionally, I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 1897, the Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act. H.R. 1897 will fund breakthroughs in Alzheimer's disease research while providing more help to caregivers and increasing public education about prevention. This legislation has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
I am also a co-sponsor of H.R. 1386, the Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act. This legislation will provide for Medicare coverage of comprehensive Alzheimer's disease and related dementia diagnosis and services. This will advance care and outcomes for Americans living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias by improving detection, diagnosis, and care planning.
Alzheimer's is currently the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression. In order to change the trajectory of this devastating disease, we must take a bold step forward towards finding the needed treatments, prevention and, one day, a cure.
As your Congressman, I will always support Alzheimer's research and will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to address the health care issues that many Arkansans and Americans face each and every day.