Congress has voted unanimously to create, for the first time, a national plan to combat Alzheimer's disease with the same intensity as the attacks on AIDS and cancer.
The bill, expected to be signed by President Obama, would establish a National Alzheimer’s Project within the Department of Health and Human Services, to coordinate the country’s approach to research, treatment and caregiving.
Its goal, the legislation says, is to “accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, halt or reverse the course of Alzheimer’s” and “improve the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and coordination of the care and treatment of citizens with Alzheimer’s.”
The project would include an advisory council of representatives from agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Food and Drug Administration, the Indian Health Service and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Scientific experts, health care providers and people caring for relatives with Alzheimer’s would also be included.
“If you go to war, you have planning, planning, planning,” said Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, who co-sponsored the bill. “Well, this is a war on a dreaded disease. We need to bring all the disparate elements together for the greatest possible result.”
While the act itself does not authorize more money, one of the recommendations of the national plan “is likely to be for an increase in research money for Alzheimer’s,” said another co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. www.nytimes.com/2010/12/16/us/politics/16alzheimer.html?_r=1