A report being released Wednesday morning warns that unless the United States takes quick action now, Alzheimer's ``could very easily surpass even the current economic crisis in the damage it inflicts on individuals and our economy.''
The report by the Alzheimer's Study Group projects that Alzheimer's disease-related costs to Medicare and Medicaid alone are projected to top more than $1 trillion annually by 2050.
And it cautions that ``our national effort to address Alzheimer's disease has lacked coordination and focus and has been woefully underfunded relative to the scale of the mounting crisis.''
New cases of the disease -- which the report notes strikes almost half of those over age 85 -- are projected to increase by more than 50 percent in 20 years and double again to as many as 16 million cases by 2050.
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The group, including Newt Gingrich, former Sen. Bob Kerrey and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, is to present its findings Wednesday to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.
The report notes that some states have outpaced the federal government, singling out Arizona, Florida and Texas for ``spearheading the creation of innovative public-private research consortia.''
Florida Sen. Mel Martinez has invited Larry Butcher, the chair of the board of directors at West Palm Beach's Alzheimer's Community Care, to testify at the hearing.