Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) who chairs the Congressional Alzheimer’s Task Force, announced today that funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) biomedical research focused on “curing and delaying onset and mitigating symptoms” of Alzheimer’s disease will jump to $2.3 billion—a 400 percent increase in just five years.
The funding is included in the House appropriations bill that passed on Wednesday.
“This legislation is another great step toward one day reaching a cure for this dreaded disease,” Smith, co-founder and chair of the Congressional Alzheimer’s Caucus, said. “In the last five years we have successfully quadrupled funding for Alzheimer’s research, but we cannot rest—our future and the future health of so many depend on our efforts now to treat and hopefully soon cure this disease.”
The FY 2019 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Bill that passed the House on Wednesday increases funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $2 billion to a total of $39 billion. This will fund critical research of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as cancer and the opioid epidemic.
Smith co-founded the Congressional Alzheimer’s Task Force in 1998 with then-Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), and currently chairs the task force which now has 181 members.
“The big breakthrough came in 2011, when we passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act,” Smith said. That landmark law not only created an advisory committee for a whole-of-government approach to fighting Alzheimer’s, but it also created a national strategy with a goal of finding a cure, or a disease-modifying therapy, by 2025.
The task force has worked to help quadruple federal research dollars for Alzheimer’s in five years from $600 million in FY 2015 to $2.3 billion in FY 2019.
The increase in NIH funding comes at a critical point in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Currently, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and one for which presently there is no cure; the number of those with Alzheimer’s is expected to rise to 14 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Timely and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can help individuals prepare their long-term care and legal and financial plans; early diagnosis could save up to $7.9 trillion in health care costs, the Alzheimer’s Association has estimated.
“More funding of Alzheimer’s research is critical to helping detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s in advance—giving patients and their loved ones a chance to plan ahead,” Smith said. “More importantly, research breakthroughs will bring us ever closer to effective treatments and, one day, a cure.”
Smith also introduced the House version of the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act (HR 1559) to help patients and their caregivers plan for long-term care; Medicare implemented core provisions of the legislation by covering one comprehensive care-planning session for patients and their caregivers.
Earlier this year, key provisions of Smith’s Kevin and Avonte’s Law were signed into law as part of the omnibus spending bill in March, funding wandering prevention programs for Alzheimer’s patients.