Alzheimer’s disease is the only leading cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. More than five million Americans suffer from this terrible disease, including more than 110,000 in Washington. With the aging baby boomer population, it could reach 14 million by 2050.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, caring for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias will cost $277 billion this year – including $186 billion in direct costs to Medicare and Medicaid. This cost could be as much as a trillion (yes, a trillion) dollars by mid-century.
Knowing personally of several friends and families affected by Alzheimer’s, I understand the impact this disease is having throughout our state and nation. We must continue to do whatever we can to increase awareness, support caregivers and push for increased research spending.
Congress has quadrupled Alzheimer’s research funding at the National Institutes of Health since 2011, thanks to efforts led by Washington Sen. Patty Murray in her role on the Senate Appropriations Committee. She recently convinced the committee to approve an additional $425 million – a 21 percent increase – for the 2019 fiscal year, pushing total annual government funding to $2.3 billion. Congress is finally waking up to this urgent need.
Please join me in thanking Sen. Murray for being a champion in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. I hope Sen. Maria Cantwell and our 8th District Representative, Dave Reichert, will continue to follow her lead.
– Ken Geisen