Alzheimer's Foundation of America Applauds Administration Efforts to Boost Federal Budget for Alzheimer's Disease Research and Caregiver Support
Organization Has Urged 'No Time to Waste'
NEW YORK, Feb. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) today applauded the Obama Administration for continuing its strong commitment to families affected by Alzheimer's disease by boosting funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research into a cure both this year and in its proposed 2013 fiscal year budget.
By increasing NIH research funding for Alzheimer's disease by an extra $50 million this year and proposing an additional $80 million for the 2013 fiscal year, as well as $26 million for support for caregivers, today's announcement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) aligns with AFA's advocacy efforts over the past 18 months for significantly stepped-up government funding aimed at preventing, treating or curing Alzheimer's disease as the incidence of the brain disease reaches crisis proportion.
NIH currently spends about $450 million a year on Alzheimer's research. When President Obama releases his fiscal year 2013 budget on February 13, he will ask Congress for $80 million in new money for Alzheimer's research, according to Administration officials.
The funding for caregiver support would be aimed at improving caregiver support in the community, raising public awareness and training of healthcare providers, officials said.
The additional funding comes as federal leaders are crafting the nation's first strategic plan to defeat Alzheimer's disease, as mandated under the National Alzheimer's Disease Project Act (NAPA) signed into law by President Obama last year.
"The Administration's efforts to carve out funds for Alzheimer's disease despite the challenging fiscal environment signals its ongoing commitment to this devastating disease, and helps pave the way for scientific discoveries that can potentially change lives and save lives," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's president and CEO, and a member of the Advisory Council on Research, Care and Services, which is advising on the historic national plan.
"We're racing against the clock to advance a solution to this crisis from both cure and care standpoints," Hall emphasized. "Our aging population can't wait any longer. It is imperative that we continue to focus on the bigger picture and move toward our goal to defeat Alzheimer's disease and provide vital support to families. This type of investment is critical so that it doesn't cost the government, as well as families, more in the long run."
AFA initially highlighted the steep shortfall in funding by NIH and specifically the National Institute on Aging (NIA) for research of Alzheimer's disease and other aging-related illnesses in its report "Penny Wise, Pound Foolish: Fairness and Funding at the National Institute on Aging" released in May 2011. NIA, one of the 27 institutes and centers of the NIH, is the primary agency responsible for Alzheimer's disease research.
"Simply put, our nation does not have the luxury of time to address the health research needs of this population," the report said.
AFA pressed forward again last October, emphasizing in its recommendations for a national plan to overcome Alzheimer's disease that NIA "will not be able to move toward a breakthrough…without a substantial investment in Alzheimer's disease research." Its "No Time to Waste" report also urged boosting the focus on clinical research, such as safety issues, non-pharmacological interventions for behavior issues and end-of-life care, and providing funding for supportive services for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their families.
In light of the work underway on the national strategy to address Alzheimer's disease, Hall said today's announcement by HHS provides necessary "seed" money to meet the ambitious goals set out in the draft framework for the plan.
AFA has been pressing for federal funding for Alzheimer's disease at a level consistent with comparable federal research investments at NIH on other chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
According to AFA, increased investment in preventing, treating or curing chronic diseases of the aging, such as Alzheimer's disease, is perhaps "the single most effective strategy in reducing national spending on health care."
Unprecedented increases in age-related diseases as the population ages are one reason the Congressional Budget Office projects that total spending on healthcare will rise to 25 percent of the U.S. GDP by 2025 from 17 percent today.
Currently, an estimated 5.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The incidence is expected to explode in coming years as the influx of baby boomers turn 65, the age when the risk for the brain disorder begins to accelerate. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling and referrals by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line, e-mail, Skype, and live chat; educational materials; a free quarterly magazine for caregivers; and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
SOURCE Alzheimer's Foundation of America