With Alzheimer’s Patients Growing in Number, Congress Endorses a National Plan

While the last session of Congress may have ended with gridlock and political grandstanding/impotency (depending on your perspective), both the Senate and the House managed to pass a bill to establish a National Alzheimer’s Project. The idea is to coordinate representatives from the CDC, NIH, etc. Read the article to learn more. Share your thoughts in the comments.

By PAM BELLUCK

Congress has voted unanimously to create, for the first time, a national plan to combat Alzheimer’s disease with the same intensity as the attacks on AIDS and cancer.

The bill, expected to be signed by President Obama, would establish a National Alzheimer’s Project within the Department of Health and Human Services, to coordinate the country’s approach to research, treatment and caregiving.

Its goal, the legislation says, is to “accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, halt or reverse the course of Alzheimer’s” and “improve the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and coordination of the care and treatment of citizens with Alzheimer’s.”

The project would include an advisory council of representatives from agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Food and Drug Administration, the Indian Health Service and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Scientific experts, health care providers and people caring for relatives with Alzheimer’s would also be included.

“If you go to war, you have planning, planning, planning,” said Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, who co-sponsored the bill. “Well, this is a war on a dreaded disease. We need to bring all the disparate elements together for the greatest possible result.”

While the act itself does not authorize more money, one of the recommendations of the national plan “is likely to be for an increase in research money for Alzheimer’s,” said another co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine.

“We spend one penny on research for every dollar the federal government spends on care for patients with Alzheimer’s,” she said. “That just doesn’t make sense. We really need to step up the investment.”

To learn more the National Alzheimer’s Project, click here to go to the New York Times website.

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