Bipartisan push for research and funding brings hope for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers

Editor’s Note: Registration is open for Washington’s 2017 Advocacy Day. Join us to update state legislators on the state’s efforts to address Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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By: Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Chair of the House Republican Conference

It’s been said that our memories are the diaries we carry with us each day. Weddings, birthdays, our children’s first steps; each mind is a collection of treasured images of days long past.

For families impacted by Alzheimer’s, it’s heartbreaking to know that those memories, those treasures, are quickly fading away.

No matter who you are, Alzheimer’s impacts all of us. We owe it to those we’ve lost and those who are currently living with this disease to do everything we can to find a cure.

Washington State has the third highest Alzheimer’s death rate in America and Alzheimer’s disease is the third leading cause of death here. Alzheimer’s takes a financial and  emotional toll on families  and greatly impacts the quality-of-life on both patients and caregivers.

When you first hear the news about the diagnosis, it’s never the news you expect. For patients and caregivers, charting a comprehensive plan on next steps to effectively manage treatment of the disease shouldn’t be a burden. Patients, their families, and caregivers should not have to search extensively for information on available resources only at times to come up empty handed.  

To help those looking for information on next steps, I cosponsored the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act (H.R. 1559), which requires Medicare to cover an individualized plan for a clear path forward, including information on how to cope and available medical and non-medical resources.

Supporting strong and stable funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) empowers our nation’s scientists and doctors to discover life-saving therapies, drugs and treatments more quickly, moving us one step closer to potentially hundreds of cures. Last year, I supported, and Congress passed, a $2 billion increase in NIH funding, including $350 million in new spending for Alzheimer’s disease research; a staggering 60 percent increase in Alzheimer’s funding from the previous year. This year, the People’s House spending bill would provide an additional $1.25 billion for NIH and $350 million for Alzheimer’s research. We must continue to invest in these critical programs to ensure patients receive the highest quality care available at a time when it’s needed the most.

Additionally, I continue to advocate for the 21st Century Cures Initiative, which will speed up the development and discovery of new treatments and therapies for millions of people across the country, which includes families and loved ones right here in Washington State. The bill passed the People’s House with overwhelming support from both parties and I look forward to working to move this important bill over the finish line this fall.

The goal of the work we do in Congress – to promote investment in research and development and advance real medical innovation right here at home – is to create a world where our future generations won’t be faced with the threat of Alzheimer’s. We owe it to our loved ones and their caregivers to help give them a future filled with hope and to provide our researchers and medical community the funding they need to find a cure.

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