Majority Press

Sen. Collins Leads Bipartisan Letter to the President Calling for Increased Funding for Alzheimer's Disease in FY 2016 Budget


WASHINGTON, DC-- Senator Susan Collins, who chairs the Senate Special Committee on Aging and is Co-Chair of the Congressional Alzheimer’s Task Force, has lead a bipartisan letter calling on President Obama to increase our nation’s spending on Alzheimer’s research as part of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget request. The letter was also signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar, Jerry Moran, and Edward Markey.

In their letter the Senators wrote, “We believe that increasing our nation’s spending on Alzheimer’s research would be a wise investment.  We therefore urge you to boost our current investment in Alzheimer’s research in your FY 2016 budget request and ask that you work with us to develop a plan to meet the research investment objective set forth in the National Plan.”

Increasing the federal investment in research to help find more effective ways to diagnose, treat and ultimately cure Alzheimer’s disease is among Senator Collins’ highest legislative priorities. The disease has had a devastating effect in 5.2 million Americans, including an estimated 37,000 in Maine.

A full text of the Senators’ letter to the President follows:

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

            Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that exacts a tremendous personal and economic toll on the individual, the family, and our society.  In addition to the human suffering it causes, Alzheimer’s costs the United States more than $214 billion a year, including $150 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid.   These costs will skyrocket as the baby boom generation ages.

            Alzheimer’s is one of our nation’s leading causes of death with recent data revealing that, each year, more than 500,000 deaths are attributable to Alzheimer’s and other dementias – six times the amount previously estimated.  Moreover, Alzheimer’s is the only one of our nation’s deadliest diseases without an effective means of prevention, treatment, or cure. 

            If nothing is done to change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s, the number of Americans afflicted with the disease is expected to more than triple between 2015 and 2050.   Already our nation’s costliest disease, Alzheimer’s is projected to cost our country more than $1 trillion by 2050.

            At a time when the United States is spending more than $200 billion a year to care for Alzheimer’s patients, we are spending less than three tenths of one percent of that amount – less than $600 million a year – on research.  Alzheimer’s receives funding disproportionately low compared to its human and economic toll.  Indeed, similarly deadly diseases receive annual funding of $2 billion, $3 billion, and even $5.4 billion for research.  Surely, we can do more for Alzheimer’s given the tremendous human and economic price of this devastating disease. 

            Investments in research for other diseases have yielded tremendous results: patients have access to new treatments, and death rates for some diseases are decreasing.  Yet, at the same time, mortality due to Alzheimer’s is escalating dramatically.  Fortunately, there is promising research that holds hope for Alzheimer’s patients and their families.  The research community is poised to make important advances through clinical trials and investigating new therapeutic targets.  But adequate funding is critical to advance this research.

            The federal funding bill for FY 2015 takes an important step forward by providing an additional $72 million for Alzheimer’s research and caregiver programs. We believe, however, that we need to do more. 

            The National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which was authorized by the bipartisan 2010 National Alzheimer’s Project Act, has as its primary goal, to “prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.”  To meet that goal, the Chairman of the Advisory Council created by the legislation says that we will need to devote $2 billion a year to Alzheimer’s research.

 We believe that increasing our nation’s spending on Alzheimer’s research would be a wise investment.  We therefore urge you to boost our current investment in Alzheimer’s research in your FY 2016 budget request and ask that you work with us to develop a plan to meet the research investment objective set forth in the National Plan.

            We know that you share our commitment to finding a way to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.  Thank you for your efforts, and we look forward to working with you to meet that goal.

####