Sen. Carper Continues Work to Help Alzheimer Patients and Families

Delaware Senator, Co-Sponsor of Alzheimer Bills, Speaks Up At Aging Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON – More can and should be done to help the five million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and 10 million family members who care for them, said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) at a hearing this morning of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Today’s congressional hearing, “The Future of Alzheimer’s: Breakthroughs and Challenges,” was called to examine the latest disease research and treatments, issues surrounding early-onset diagnoses, the importance of training and support for patient caregivers and the need for a comprehensive national strategy as more and more Americans are diagnosed with the disease.

In the 20th century, we succeeded in eradicating diseases such as polio and smallpox,” Sen. Carper said. “I believe now is the time for us to put our resources behind finding a cure for other depilating diseases such as Alzheimer’s.” 

Sen. Carper is a co-sponsor of the Alzheimer’s Family Assistance Act of 2007 and the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act of 2007, which, together, would increase funding for NIH Alzheimer’s research, continue programs that assist Alzheimer caregivers and provide tax incentives to purchase long-term care insurance.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were the lead witnesses as members of the Alzheimer’s Study Group. Witnesses today projected that without a cure or the discovery of some treatment that could delay the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s, there will be almost a half million new cases of Alzheimer’s disease each year by 2010; by 2050, there will be a million new cases each year.

The United States spends about $150 billion each year to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Medicare spending alone will reach $160 billion by 2010—nearly double its 2005 costs.

Immediately before today’s aging committee hearing, Sen. Carper met in his Senate office with about 25 members of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Sen. Carper was honored last August, in Georgetown, Del., for his work on Alzheimer’s legislation. This is a very personal topic for the senator who lost his mother, Mary Jean Patton Carper, to Alzheimer’s in 2005.

Sen. Carper is a co-sponsor of two Alzheimer bills introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) – S. 897, the Alzheimer’s Family Assistance Act of 2007 and S. 898, the Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act of 2007. 

The Alzheimer’s Family Assistance Act (S. 897) would:
     – Create up to a $3,000 tax credit for family caregivers to pay for such needs as prescription drugs, home health care, adult day care, and respite care.
      – Make long-term care insurance premiums deductible for all taxpayers. 
The Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Act (S. 898) would:
     – Double the funding for the National Institutes of Health Alzheimer’s research, which would increase authorization levels to $1.3 billion. 
     – Require research on the prevention of early onset Alzheimer’s disease (diagnosed before age 65).
     – Establish a public education campaign to inform consumers about Alzheimer’s disease, and require the Department of Health and Human Services to host a National Summit on Alzheimer’s. 
        –  Authorize $15 million in grants to state and local health agencies and nonprofit organizations for activities and programs that ensure quality health care services for Alzheimer’s patients and slow the onset and progression of the disease.
      – Renew authority for the existing Alzheimer’s Matching Grant Program at a funding level of $25 million.