Today, I had the pleasure to testify before the House Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Related Agencies
about the need to further increase Alzheimer's and dementia research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The hearing, which sought to get input on the fiscal year 2019 (FY19) Department of HHS budget, is an important part of the government's appropriations process.
During my testimony I shared with members of the subcommittee the stark facts about Alzheimer's. Today, an estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, the only leading cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed. What's more it is the most expensive disease in the country, with America spending an estimated $277 billion in direct costs for those with Alzheimer's and other dementias, including $186 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid.
But, I also highlighted the progress we are making in large part because Congress has substantially increased Alzheimer's funding. For example, the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), which tracks how neuroimaging and fluid biomarkers change with disease onset and progression, has moved into a critical new phase of discovery with ADNI3. And, the recent publication of the “NIA-AA Research Framework: Towards a Biological Definition of Alzheimer's Disease” provides researchers a roadmap that circumvents many of the pitfalls that have crippled so many high-profile clinical trials in recent years.
These advancements are possible because of the hard work of dedicated researchers, and because in recent years Congress has worked in a bipartisan fashion to make Alzheimer's and dementia a priority. Since the passage of the National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA) in 2011, Congress has quadrupled Alzheimer's and dementia research funding at the NIH.
But there is more to be explored and promising research to be funded. The Professional Judgment Budget, submitted to Congress by the NIH, outlines the resources the NIH says are needed to directly support research identified by leading scientists to meet the 2025 prevention and treatment goal established by the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease.
During my testimony, I expressed to the committee it is vitally important the NIH has the resources it needs to continue the momentum toward promising advances. Please join me, AIM and the Alzheimer's Association to urge Congress to fund new research targets outlined in the Professional Judgment Budget by supporting an additional $425 million for NIH Alzheimer's funding in FY 2019.