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Sen. Reed, Lt. Gov. McKee Seek to Strengthen Alzheimer's & Dementia Research, Treatment, and Support

Lt. Gov. McKee leads task force to shape RI's response to impending health epidemic & Senator Reed helps boost federal funding for research & cosponsors BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act

CRANSTON, RI According to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of people projected to have Alzheimer's disease, a chronic neurodegenerative disease, or dementia in the United States is expected to double by 2060.

Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, including 23,000 in Rhode Island, who are served by the more than 53,000 family, friends, and care providers across the Ocean State.

As communities and states across the nation grapple with the health, human, and economic costs of Alzheimer's disease and seek to prepare for this impending health crisis, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined with Lt. Governor Dan McKee, state health officials, and the Alzheimer's Association Rhode Island Chapter in Cranston to discuss and update Rhode Island's State Plan on Alzheimer's. The State Plan will help guide Rhode Island's efforts to support individuals living with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders and those caring for them and strategically coordinate services, research, and public awareness and educational outreach.

Earlier this year, Lt. Governor McKee and the Rhode Island Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association secured $30,000 in grants to update the State Plan. The grants allowed the Lt. Governor's Office and the Alzheimer's Association to partner with Splaine Consulting, a nationally-recognized research firm specializing in public health policy. Splaine has extensive knowledge of the national Alzheimer's landscape and firsthand experience in crafting state plans across the country.

"Rhode Island is leading the way in Alzheimer's research and treatment due in large part to how our elected officials, doctors, caregivers and advocates are able to collaborate and innovate together. Rhode Island's progress in fighting Alzheimer's is result of a true team effort," said Lt. Governor McKee. "I look forward to continue working with Senator Reed and the Alzheimer's Association Rhode Island Chapter to ensure that patients get the best care and treatment and that their families have the resources they deserve."

This week, Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, helped deliver an historic $425 million increase for Alzheimer's research in the Senate-passed Appropriations "Minibus" bill for 2019, which is expected to be signed into law. The package covers spending for the U.S. Departments of Defense, Labor, Education, and other federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This level of funding would increase the total federal investment for Alzheimer's research to $2.34 billion for fiscal year 2019.

"I commend Lt. Governor McKee and everyone who serves on his Alzheimer's Executive Board and is collaborating on this comprehensive state plan to address the Alzheimer's disease crisis. We recognize that Alzheimer's is an extraordinary health issue, and we're lucky in Rhode Island to have a group of professionals like Donna and her team at the Alzheimer's Association Rhode Island Chapter and everyone behind me, who are committed to working day in and day out together for the promise of health care," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. "Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and it's a very cruel and insidious disease. It robs memories, it debilitates individuals, and it impacts the entire family. Thankfully, there is hope on the horizon. In the Senate we just passed an appropriations bill that increases Alzheimer's research spending by $425 million dollars - the largest Alzheimer's funding increase in history and a big step on the road to conquer this disease. I've also been working on a bipartisan basis with my colleagues to introduce legislation called the Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure, or BOLD Act. We want to establish standards of excellence across the country to improve care for Alzheimer's patients, provide funding for research, help the states collect the data, and contribute the kind of innovative approaches that we can use throughout the nation. We hope it will lead to medical breakthroughs and will change the way we care for Alzheimer's patients."

The Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act, which Senator Reed is cosponsoring, was introduced by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) to improve our nation's Alzheimer's public health infrastructure.

Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) Secretary Eric Beane helped lead the meeting and noted that the cost to care for individuals living with Alzheimer's or other dementias currently is projected to skyrocket and that the state has held a series of Town Hall meetings across the state to collect input from Rhode Islanders whose lives have been impacted by the disease.

"I am proud to have partners like Senator Reed and Lt. Gov. McKee who understand the need for bold action to address the needs of Rhode Island families," said HHS Secretary Eric Beane. "In addition to updating the State Plan on Alzheimer's with strong support from the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs we have also made a considerable effort to hear from the community directly as we examine areas of improvement for our long-term care system. Rhode Islanders deserve a system that promotes quality of life, independence, and helps people remain connected to their communities and loved ones for as long as possible. There are many pieces to this puzzle, and caring for our Alzheimer's and dementia patients is a significant one. We have to work together to best support the individuals, families and caregivers facing this complicated and relentless disease."

"Every 65 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer's," said Donna McGowan, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association Rhode Island Chapter. "But thanks to the increased American Institutes of Health funding, American scientists are working on ways to reduce risk, develop new biomarkers for early diagnosis and drug targeting, and develop treatments to move to chemical testing. We're grateful to Senator Reed and the rest of Congress and our own Rhode Island congressional contingency for taking this bipartisan action to allow NIH to continue to accelerate research on this devastating and fatal disease."

Today's event takes place in advance of this weekend's Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's, which is scheduled for Sunday, September 23 at 10 a.m. at Misquamicut State Beach (registration opens at 8:30 am) in Westerly. There will also be a 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer's in Providence on Sunday, September 30, 2018. To learn more, go to: https://www.alz.org/ri.

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