A recent meeting of the Senate Special Committee on Aging heard pleas from journalist Maria Schriver and physicians to not cut funding to the National Institute of Health budget. The Trump budget looks to cut NIH funding by 20 percent in 2018.
The founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, Shriver lost her father, Sargent Shriver to Alzheimer’s. At the meeting, she emphasized that current funding is already falling far short of what is needed to find a cure for the disease. Unchecked, the growth of Alzheimer’s will stretch the country’s medical system as boomers age.
Her request to increase funding to $414 million in 2018 is tied to a request for the committee to make a federal commitment to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Kristine Yaffe, MD, a prominent neuropsychiatrist with the University of California San Francisco told the committee that Alzheimer’s, the most expensive disease in the country is on track to triple in expense by 2050 with related costs to actually quadruple.
Committee chair Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) agreed, saying “Given our rapidly aging population, we cannot afford to do nothing”.
She’s right. I’ve seen firsthand the agony of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis on the families we work with. I hope this issue remains a human one in this heavily political environment and our country moves forward to find a cure soon.
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