Senate Passes National Alzheimers Project Act

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Currently, over 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive age-related neurological disease that causes the atrophy of brain cells, dementia, and ultimately loss of life. The number of Alzheimer’s patients is expected to skyrocket in the next 40 years, as the “baby boomer” generation begins to turn 65 on January 1, 2011. The United States was one of the few developed countries without a plan on how to overcome this epidemic, until now.

Bill Will Create Inter-Agency Advisory Council to Coordinate Alzheimer's Efforts

On Wednesday, December 8, the US Senate voted to pass the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, also called NAPA (S.3036). The bill was first introduced in 2007 in an effort to establish a national strategic plan to focus US efforts and ensure that resources are maximized to find better treatments, a means of prevention, and ultimately a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

"Today, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, more than double the number in 1980," said Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who along with Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana introduced and championed the legislation. "If nothing is done to change the current trajectory of the disease, 13.5 million Americans over the age of 65 will have Alzheimer's disease by 2050. Moreover, if nothing is done to slow or stop the disease, Alzheimer's will cost the United States $20 trillion over the next 40 years."

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The National Alzheimer’s Project Act now moves to the US House of Representatives for vote and approval before being signed into law by President Obama. If enacted, the bill will do the following:

• Launch a campaign within the federal government to overcome Alzheimer’s disease.
• Establish an inter-agency Advisory Council to develop with the Secretary of Health and Human Services a coordinated National Alzheimer’s Disease Plan.
• Comprehensively address the federal government’s efforts on Alzheimer’s research, care, institutional services, and home- and community-based programs.
• Accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, halt, or reverse the course of Alzheimer’s disease.
• Decrease health disparities by ensuring ethnic and racial populations at higher risk for Alzheimer’s receive much-needed care and services.

The Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, is urging all Americans to contact their Representative in Congress to support the House’s passage of NAPA. The organization’s website offers an online form that allows you to take action and write to congress so the bill can be passed as soon as possible.

Update, December 28, 2010:
The National Alzheimer's Project Act has passed approval in the House of Representatives and was presented to President Barack Obama today for signing into law.

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