Gus Bilirakis Champions National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act

Last week, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., showcased his support for a proposal from U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY, “unite the federal government in a mission to cure and prevent Parkinson’s, alleviate financial and health burdens on American families, and reduce government spending over time.”

Tonko introduced the “National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act” at the end of July. Bilirakis is one of five members of the U.S. House co-sponsoring the bill.

The bill will “create an advisory council comprising members of every federal agency that supports research, care and services for Parkinson’s, plus caregivers, patients and other non-federal experts.” The council will coordinate federal efforts to treat and cure the disease; evaluate all federal programs concerning the disease; and create “a national plan to prevent and cure Parkinson’s, and reduce the financial impact of the disease on patients and the federal government.”

Last week, the Florida congressman’s office offered some of the reasons why he was backing the bill.

“As the second most common and fastest-growing neurological disease globally, at least 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s are diagnosed every year. In addition to the human toll that this degenerative disease takes on patients and their loved ones, U.S. taxpayers spend over $52 billion annually to provide treatment to those suffering with the disease. By 2037, the cost is estimated to jump to more than $80 billion annually. There is no one exact cause of Parkinson’s, and researchers believe it is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Tragically, there is currently no way to prevent Parkinson’s, no cure and no treatments proven to slow, reverse, or stop the disease,” Bilirakis’ office noted.

“This issue is very important to me as I’ve watched a close family member struggle with Parkinson’s,” said Bilirakis. “This disease takes a terrible toll on the physical, mental, emotional, and economic well-being of everyone involved. The lack of treatment options leave patients, families and the American taxpayers in a terrible quandary. We must change our approach in order to get better results, which is exactly what our bipartisan legislation will do. It builds upon past success and strives to replicate other national project models that have helped advance our health care goals. This critical legislation will provide hope to those who are suffering and hopefully lead to better patient outcomes with less expensive disease management.”

“Receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis is truly devastating for individuals and their loved ones,” Tonko said. “It is incumbent on Congress to ensure Americans know they will be supported during this frightening and life-altering time. Our legislation does just that. I’m proud to join my colleague, Representative Bilirakis, to introduce this commonsense, compassionate bill that will establish a robust response to address Parkinson’s and ensure that patients and their families receive the care they need.”

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) is backing the proposal.

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

Kevin Derby
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