Actor David Hyde Pierce Urges Passage of Reagan Bill
Washington, D.C. – David Hyde Pierce, national board member of the Alzheimer's Association, Emmy award winning actor of the television series "Frasier," and current star of the Broadway musical "Spamalot," joined senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.) today to announce the reintroduction of the Ronald Reagan Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act which would authorize Congress to double federal research funding for Alzheimer's to $1.4 billion annually.
"I am one of the millions whose family is impacted by Alzheimer's. If we do not accelerate research for Alzheimer's right now, the costs of the disease will eclipse anything else we have on the agenda," said Pierce. "There is real hope that we can reduce the growing threat of Alzheimer's disease through breakthroughs in disease prevention in the next 10 years. New scientific discoveries are occurring regularly that hold great promise, so we need to make the investment now to keep the momentum going. If we can prevent the disease we can also achieve tremendous savings to Medicaid and Medicare, because Alzheimer's disease is a significant cost to these programs."
"The greatest threat to preventing this disease is lack of adequate funding for research. Without a continued commitment from our government, costs of treating people with Alzheimer's will bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid and have a severe impact on our economy and our families," continued Pierce. "An investment of at least $1 billion annually in federal funding is critical to maintaining the progress in the fight against Alzheimer's disease."
There are currently more than 4.5 million Americans with Alzheimer's. Increasing age is the greatest risk factor so as the population ages that number could range between 11.3 and 16 million by 2050. Medicare costs for beneficiaries with Alzheimer's are expected to increase 75 percent to $160 billion, and Medicaid expenditures on residential dementia care will increase 14 percent to $24 billion, by 2010.
"Alzheimer's is a devastating disease that not only affects those afflicted and their families but threatens to overwhelm our economy and healthcare system," said Senator Bond. "As we celebrate the life and legacy of Ronald Reagan, it is critical that we pass this bill and confront this expanding public health crisis. The greatest tribute to President Reagan and his family would be a living memorial. This bill will serve as a living tribute to President Reagan. It will spark and accelerate breakthroughs in research and offer hope to all those suffering from the disease today."
"We should honor President Reagan's life with a commitment to fighting Alzheimer's disease: finding new treatments, care for those with the disease and ultimately creating a cure," said Senator Mikulski. "Alzheimer's is an All-American disease that affected an All-American president. Now we need an All-American effort to find breakthroughs and speed up the day when no family has to go through the long goodbye."
Also in attendance at the announcement was Karen Rivera, a caregiver from St. Peters, Mo., and Paul Fishman, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher from the University of Maryland.
The bill, named after President Reagan who passed away from Alzheimer's in 2004, authorizes Congress to increase federal funding to $1.4 billion annually to accelerate the investment in research that is crucial to finding ways to treat and prevent Alzheimer's. It would also provide a tax credit up to $3,000 to help family caregivers pay for prescription drugs, home health and day care costs of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's. A House companion bill will be introduced soon by Representatives Edward Markey (D-Ma.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas).
The Alzheimer's Association, the world leader in Alzheimer research and support, is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to finding prevention methods, treatments and an eventual cure for Alzheimer's. For nearly 25 years, the donor-supported, not-for-profit Alzheimer's Association has provided reliable information and care consultation; created supportive services for families; increased funding for dementia research; and influenced public policy changes.
The Alzheimer's Association's vision is a world without Alzheimer's and its dual mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research and to enhance care and support for individuals, their families and caregivers. For more information, visit www.alz.org or call 1.800.272.3900.
Editor's Note: News Briefing
- Who: Senator Barbara Mikulski; Senator Kit Bond; David Hyde Pierce; and Karen Rivera, an Alzheimer's family caregiver; other Senators TBD.
- What: Announcement of introduction of The Ronald Reagan Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act of 2005.
- When: Thursday, March 10, 2005, 10:30 a.m. ET
- Where: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Capitol Hill, Room 106
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