Ask Kirk, Durbin to support Alzheimer's funding

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Because I lost my father to Alzheimer's disease and because I volunteer with the Alzheimer's Association Help Line, I know the toll this disease takes on entire families. The numbers of persons impacted is staggering today and only continues to grow, so we desperately need to find a cure.

I am an Alzheimer's Association advocate, and today I am writing to urge U.S. senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk to support $100 million for Alzheimer's research, care and support in the Fiscal Year '14 budget. Requested by the Alzheimer's Association and the National Institutes on Health to begin implementation of the National Alzheimer's Project Act, these funds are critical to marshal the resources, expertise and innovation needed to change the course of the disease for the millions living with Alzheimer's today and the millions more who will face it in the future.

Members of a bipartisan Budget Conference are tasked with finding common ground between the Senate and House draft versions and forming a budget in the coming weeks. As members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, both Sen. Durbin and Sen. Kirk have input into the conference's breakdown of funds and consequently can play an integral role in securing appropriations for Alzheimer's disease in the final budget.

Unless something is done, Alzheimer's will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion in 2050 and costs to Medicare and Medicaid will increase more than 500 percent. The conference must report all budgetary findings and recommendations by Dec. 13, allowing Congress until Jan. 15 to pass the legislation. We must pass this budget or our country will face the next round of sequester cuts, which will prove even more devastating to the health and human services community.

The costs for Alzheimer's care and services continue to rise, straining our overwhelmed health care system and threatening to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid. I ask neighbors and friends to join me in humbly urging senators Kirk and Durbin to prioritize Alzheimer's funding.

Ruth Reko

River Forest

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