CONGRESSWOMAN MAXINE WATERS
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) has been named the new co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s disease. She will lead the Caucus as the Democratic co-chair, alongside the Republican co-chair, Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04).
“I am honored to be named co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s disease,” said Waters, “and I look forward to working with Rep. Chris Smith to promote policies that will advance Alzheimer’s research, develop treatment methods, and improve the quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and their families.”
Waters succeeds Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) as co-chair, following his swearing in as Senator from Massachusetts. Because of Waters’ longstanding support both for those suffering from Alzheimer’s as well as their caregivers, Rep. Smith considered her to be the obvious choice to assume the Democratic co-chair position.
“As we continue to push for key initiatives to assist those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, I am pleased to welcome Rep. Maxine Waters as the new co-chair of the Alzheimer’s Disease Task Force,” said Rep. Smith, who joined then-Rep. Ed Markey in creating the Task Force in 1999.
“Rep. Waters has worked over the years on caregiver support programs that are vital to the 15 million Americans providing care and support for their loved ones with dementia.”
The Task Force works to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s, strengthen the federal commitment to improving the lives of those affected by the disease, and assist the caregivers who provide their needed support. The Alzheimer’s community strongly supports the announcement of Waters as the new co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, according to its spokespeople.
"We welcome Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) as the new co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Robert Egge, vice president of Public Policy and Advocacy for the Alzheimer's Association.
“As the lead sponsor of the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act and the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program Reauthorization Act, Waters has been a leader on Alzheimer's legislation in Congress. We look forward to working with both Representatives Smith and Waters on taking important steps to further implement the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.”
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and it affects over five million American families. One in nine Americans age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s, and one in three Americans age 85 and older suffers from this disease. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that more than 7 million Americans over age 65 will have Alzheimer’s by the year 2025. Every 68 seconds, another person in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
The Task Force spearheaded three initiatives recently that will assist patients with Alzheimer’s disease and the caregivers that support them:
· Introduced the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act which authorizes grants to public and non-profit organizations to expand training and support services for families and caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Most people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease live at home under the care of family and friends and more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
· Urged the Director and Chief Medical Officer of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Patrick Conway, M.D., MSc, to reverse an ill conceived proposal that will deny Medicare coverage of positron emission tomography (PET) amyloid-beta (Aβ) imaging for individuals with dementia or neurodegenerative disease. The co-chairs state that, “we were very discouraged by the determination and believe it runs counter to the goals we share of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer's disease by 2025. Better diagnosis of Alzheimer’s allows individuals with the disease and their caregivers to consider all medical and non-medical treatments and supports, including participation in clinical trials.”
· Introduced the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program Reauthorization Act which reauthorizes a Department of Justice program that helps local communities and law enforcement officials quickly identify persons with Alzheimer’s disease who wander and reunite them with their families. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients are likely to wander and this program continues to save law enforcement officials valuable time, reduce unintentional injuries and deaths among Alzheimer’s patients, and bring peace of mind to their families.
Reps. Smith and Waters have previously worked together to secure funding for the Alzheimer’s Disease Supportive Services Program (ADSSP), the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program, and the Peer Reviewed Alzheimer's Research program at the Department of Defense.
“I look forward to working with Maxine and the more than 150 members of the bi-partisan, bicameral task force on behalf of patients with Alzheimer’s disease from New Jersey and across the country to Maxine’s home state of California,” said Rep. Smith.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a tragic disease, and it has a devastating impact on millions of American families. I welcome the opportunity to work more closely with all of the members of the task force to assist Alzheimer’s patients and their families,” said Waters.