Today, Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and New York State Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) called on New York State to position itself as the center of Alzheimer's research through the creation of a bonding initiative that would fund research, create jobs, and give hope to the 5.2 million Americans currently living with the disease. Even though Alzheimer's is the most expensive malady in the United States, federal investments in researching the disease are currently at an all-time low. Rep. Israel also discussed legislation he supports on a federal level to fund this critical research.
Rep. Israel said, "With the cost of Alzheimer's to our country expected to skyrocket, researching the disease is not just a matter of compassion for a cure; it is a public policy imperative. However, with governments everywhere facing ever-tightening budgets, it's necessary to implement creative funding mechanisms. That's why Assemblyman Lavine and I are calling on New York State to be a leader when it comes to Alzheimer's research through a bonding initiative."
Assemblyman Lavine said, "Long Island and New York are home to some of the most significant research institutions, health center and universities in the country. We have the ability to utilize all of these resources to conduct research and clinical trials that could lead us to finding options for those dealing with Alzheimer's; patients and their caregivers. Without a dedicated funding stream to continue the flow of research dollars we will be standing by while more than five million people suffer from this devastating disease. While treatments for symptoms are available and they can slow the progress of the disease, they're not a cure. We need to find better ways to treat or at least delay its development and improve the quality of life for those suffering from Alzheimer's."
Associate Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Lab (CSHL), Hiro Furukawa spoke about the importance of Alzheimer's research. He said, "CSHL has a robust research program for studying the brain -- how healthy brains work and what goes wrong in brains that are sick. I know that our work will make a difference in combating diseases like Alzheimer's and public funding for CSHL's research on the fundamental biology of diseases like Alzheimer's is critical to better diagnosis and treatments."
Douglas Davidson, Executive Director of the Long Island Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association also spoke. He said, "Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression. Caring for people with Alzheimer's, the country's most expensive condition, currently costs the nation $203 billion annually with projections to reach $1.2 trillion by 2050. Investments in Alzheimer's research today have the potential both to save millions of lives and billions of dollars for the nation's public health programs."
The cost of Alzheimer's to our country is expected to increase from $203 billion this year to $1.2 trillion by 2050, not including the unpaid hours spent by caregivers. Exploring treatments and cures for the disease poses unique challenges, especially because the latest research indicates that the onset of Alzheimer's disease comes long before a formal diagnosis. Because long-term studies may be necessary to find effective treatments, pharmaceutical companies must bear huge costs up-front before seeing the results of their investments bear fruit, and many are understandably wary.
By issuing bonds approved by taxpayers, New York State could utilize an innovative approach to find and leverage new revenues. The funding could be used to provide research grants and other financing to collaborations of New York institutions and researchers while creating jobs and funding essential research and clinical trials.
A Similar bonding initiatives was created in California. In 2004, voters in California passed a $3 billion bond issue to fund stem cell research. This funding has allowed significant research to be conducted into finding cures to diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke. It has also helped created thousands of jobs in the state.
On the federal level, Rep. Israel is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan Making Investments Now for Dementia (MIND) Act, which would authorize the Treasury to issue bonds to aid in the funding of Alzheimer's research and authorize appropriations to National Institutes of Health for such research. By allowing for all Americans to purchase bonds, they would be able to support the fight to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.