Posted on June 16, 2004
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced that he will co-sponsor the Ronald Reagan Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act of 2004 to double funding for Alzheimer's research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "The last 10 years of President Reagan's life have reminded us that Alzheimer's affects one half of Americans who live to be 85 years of age," Alexander said. "Stepping up our efforts to find a cure for this disease is a fine way to honor our president and to help many other Americans." The bill, introduced by Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), provides critical support for caregivers. It also calls for a public education campaign to get the word out on the latest advances in Alzheimer's research and prevention. NIH currently receives $700 million for Alzheimer's research. The bill asks for increased authorization levels of $1.4 billion. It also increases funding for three existing caregiver support initiatives and provides support for caregivers with tax credits to help families pay for prescription drugs, home health care, adult day care and respite care. It increases access to respite care services by providing grants to states and nonprofit organizations to train respite care workers and increase services. The bill calls for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to host a national summit on Alzheimer's to examine current research efforts, priorities for federally-supported initiatives and the challenges that face the public and research community. Alzheimer's disease involves an irreversible process of brain degeneration, causing a progressive loss of memory and other mental functions that eventually robs patients of the ability to reason, communicate and perform basic tasks. Alzheimer's disease currently affects an estimated 4.5 million Americans. Because more people are living longer, this number is expected to triple in the next 20 years. It's estimated that 25 million families provide care for such patients.