August 23, 2018
Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), spoke on the Senate floor ahead of the vote on the Labor/HHS funding bill. Blunt highlighted the importance of investing in research to find a prevention and cure for Alzheimer’s disease, noting that, in addition to the toll the disease takes on patients and loved ones, treating those with Alzheimer’s costs taxpayers $21 million every hour and, without a treatment or cure, will top $1.1 trillion by 2050 – about twice as much as the annual defense budget. The funding bill, which passed the Senate, surpasses the $2 billion research goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.
Following are Excerpts from Blunt’s Remarks:
“Let me talk for a few minutes about one of the items our bill, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee you and I serve on, and that would be health care research, and specifically Alzheimer's and how it relates to that research. First of all, for a dozen years ending four years ago, there had not been a penny of increase in health research. When I became chairman of this committee four years ago, Senator Murray and I began to work on reprioritizing health care research. Democrats and Republicans getting together to figure out what we needed to do… What we needed to do was eliminate other programs and combine other programs and make tough choices to really be sure that health research was a priority. When we pass this bill today, Madam President, we will have increased health research spending in a budget that for two years had no growth at all, and has had some growth in the last two, but by 30 percent, from $30 billion a year to $39 billion a year.
“Every hour, Alzheimer's disease costs taxpayers at least $21 million. Every single hour. Someone in the United States is developing Alzheimer's every 65 seconds. We're spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $277 billion tax dollars a year on Alzheimer's and dementia-related care… It’s hard to talk about this without giving numbers, but numbers are not the most riveting thing, particularly when you talk about millions, or billions, or even trillions. What does that really mean? That really means that we're spending basically an amount equal to half of the defense budget on Alzheimer's and dementia-related care. Just the overwhelming impact of that, if we don't do something differently than we're doing right now, just because of the projected long life and demographics of the country, in 2050, which is 32 years from now, we'll be spending, in today's dollars, $1.1 trillion on Alzheimer's and dementia care. $ 1.1 trillion… That's twice the defense budget of last year, twice the defense budget. …
“If we could just delay onset of Alzheimer's, if we could figure out how to come up with something that would slow down the onset of that disease. If we could delay onset by an average of five years, we’d cut that $1.1 trillion by 42 percent, almost in half. If we could have the average person that gets Alzheimer's, get it five years later than they are getting Alzheimer's today, almost half, 42 percent of that $1.1 trillion would go away.”