Alzheimer's research, education needs funding

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: July 7 2013 | 12:31 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:30 am in

This year in America we will spend $2.03 billion on Alzheimer’s disease and two-thirds of that will be paid by Medicare and Medicaid. The costs will skyrocket to an estimated $1.2 trillion by 2050.

Based on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study in the April issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the United States and costing even more than heart disease and cancer.

If there was a treatment that delayed Alzheimer’s by five years, it would cut government costs for Medicare and Medicaid almost in half. For every $27,000 the federal government spends on care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, it spends only $100 on research.

To support the recommendations of the National Alzheimer’s Plan, the Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) legislation was introduced in Congress (S. 709/H.R. 1507) which would provide Medicare coverage for a package of services. With 5.2 million Americans (and 69,000 Iowans) with Alzheimer’s and this is expected to increase to 15 million Americans by 2050, it is extremely important that Congress pass the HOPE legislation to provide diagnosis, care planning, and medical documentation.

We are at a critical moment and it is incumbent upon the nation’s leaders to ensure the promise of the National Alzheimer’s Plan. As the Labor-Health Human Services Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee prepares the 2014 Appropriations Bill it is essential they include an additional $100 million for Alzheimer’s research, education, outreach and caregiver support. You can help by contacting Sen. Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Committee, and urging his support.

Gary A. Wicklund

Board Member, East Central Iowa Chapter,

Alzheimer’s

Association

Cedar Rapids

 

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