Illinois Community

Erna Colborn: A Huge Step Forward in Fight Against Alzheimer’s

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
01/04/16  9:06 AM PST

By Erna Colborn for The State Journal-Register

In recent years, the political climate in Washington, D.C., has shown us that the likelihood of Congress taking historic action on any issue is exceptionally rare. Considering that, as a taxpayer, the recent passage of a federal budget by bipartisan majorities was welcome relief from the usual news of partisan gridlock.

As President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter, it held even greater significance: the budget for the coming year will increase federally-funded Alzheimer’s disease research by $350 million. This represents a 59.7 percent increase in funding for National Institutes of Health-led efforts to treat and cure Alzheimer’s, the largest such expansion in our nation’s history.

In 2014, the federal government spent $153 billion providing care for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. With more than 5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s and projections that the patient population could increase by more than 200 percent in the coming decades, costs are set to skyrocket. The time to act was upon us. The bipartisan coalition of lawmakers who supported this increase reflects the urgency of the situation, and is a testament both to the unacceptably high prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, which has personally affected many members of Congress, and the hard work, passion and dedication of Alzheimer’s Association advocates, staff and donors.

This victory should be seen as part of a continuum of success advocating for public policies to address the impending Alzheimer’s disease epidemic:

In 2010, Alzheimer’s Association advocates helped pass legislation that created the National Alzheimer’s Plan, an annually updated strategic assessment of federally-funded research, care and support programs, with the goal of effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.

Three years later, the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama after swift congressional action. This law will allow the NIH to submit budgetary recommendations directly to Congress beginning in fiscal year 2017, ensuring that lawmakers have access to the best information available when determining future funding priorities.

Read the Full Article at The State Journal-Register.