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Budget OK needed for federal funds to fight Alzheimer’s disease

Updated: December 15, 2013 11:33AM

Budget OK needed for federal funds to fight Alzheimer’s disease

Someone develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds. In a little more than a minute, someone’s life will change — maybe in small, imperceptible ways at first, but Alzheimer’s is a disease that will never go away. It is a fatal disease for which there is no cure.

As an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, I urge our U.S. senators, Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin, to support $100 million for Alzheimer’s research, care and support in the Fiscal Year 14 final budget. These funds are crucial for Illinois, where more than 210,000 people are living with the disease, and for the more than 5 million diagnosed Americans and 15 million caregivers across the country.

Members of a bipartisan budget conference are tasked with finding common ground between the Senate and House draft versions and forming a budget in the coming weeks. As members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, both Durbin and Kirk have input into the conference’s breakdown of funds and consequently can play an integral role in securing appropriations for Alzheimer’s disease in the final budget.

Unless something is done, Alzheimer’s will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion in 2050, and costs to Medicare and Medicaid will increase more than 500 percent. The budget conference must report all budgetary findings and recommendations by Dec. 13, allowing Congress until Jan. 15 to pass the legislation. We must pass this budget, or our country will face the next round of sequester cuts, which will prove even more devastating to the health and human services community.

I was a caregiver to my dad, who suffered with Alzheimer’s disease for almost nine years. I lived the disease with him every day. I know the devastation Alzheimer’s wreaks on families, caregivers and the community. We must find the funds to continue the research needed to find a cure for this horrible disease.

I implore Sens. Kirk and Durbin to do the right thing and support the $100 million for Alzheimer’s research, care and support.

The costs for Alzheimer’s care and services continue to rise, straining our overwhelmed health care system and threatening to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid. I humbly urge Sens. Kirk and Durbin to prioritize Alzheimer’s funding.

Cathy Edge


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