Americans would be to able make a voluntary, tax-deductible contribution on their federal tax returns to fund Alzheimer's research and caregiver support services through a new bipartisan bill sponsored by Reps. Tom Suozzi and Peter King.
The bill, which will be introduced in the coming days, would create the Alzheimer's Research and Caregiving Trust Fund to supplement the $2.34 billion in existing federal funds Congress appropriated last year to fund research and support services.
"There's a lot of great work going on, but will it take more money," Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said at a news conference Monday at Glen Cove Hospital. "This is a creative way to fund additional research and caregiving services."
More than 5.7 million people nationwide live with Alzheimer’s disease, including approximately 400,000 in New York State and 50,000 on Long Island, officials said Monday.
But King (R-Seaford) said the disease also affects millions of friends and family who help care for Alzheimer's patients.
"It appears almost everyone you know has someone in their family affected by Alzheimer's," King said. "It's an illness that strikes so many … And what it does to a family. It almost brings things to a halt. As the situation gets worse, everyone's life gets worse."
The legislation would allow tax filers to check a box on the their federal returns and specify the amount of money they want to contribute for Alzheimer's research.
The money would be split evenly between the National Institutes of Health and the Administration of Aging, part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, to benefit Alzheimer's patients, their families and caregivers.
Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only one disease in the top 10 without a cure or disease-modifying treatment.
Charles Fuschillo Jr., president and chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, said the failure rate for phase-two clinical Alzheimer's trials is 99.7 percent.
But Fuschillo, a former Republican state senator from Merrick, said the proposed legislation provides a measure of hope for those suffering with the debilitating disease.
"There's hope for a cure, hope for better treatment and hope to slow the progression down," Fuschillo said.
Andrew Falzon of Howard Beach is desperately seeking a cure for his father, Alfred, 79, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2014.
Four years ago, Alfred Falzon, a former European and Australian professional soccer player, had a psychotic break and was hospitalized for four months. Two years later, he wandered out of his nursing home at 2 a.m., his son said.
In recent years, Falzon's decline has been "slow and steady," and he now has difficulty finding the bathroom in his home of 30 years, his son said. Falzon now has 24-hour-per-day nursing care in his home.
"It's a disease that affects individuals and caregivers on every level conceivable," said Andrew Falzon.
The number of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s disease is expected to nearly triple by 2060, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.