Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday hailed continued increases in state spending on Alzheimer’s research while also signing a measure that calls on the Department of Health to educate health care providers on the warning signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
DeSantis signed SB 806 at a ceremony held at Broward Health Sports Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, where he was joined by local officials as well as the CEO of a medical device company pushing ahead with a type of noninvasive brain treatment.
Roughly 580,000 people over the age of 65 live with Alzheimer’s disease in Florida, the second-highest population in the nation. That number is projected to jump to 720,000 in three years.
DeSantis noted during his remarks there was an additional $21 million in increased funding for Alzheimer’s programs in the Department of Elder Affairs in the state Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget that kicks in July 1.
The Governor said there has been a 60% increase in Alzheimer’s-related funding since he took office in January 2019. The amount spent on the Alzheimer’s disease initiative has grown more during his four years in office than it did during the eight years when Rick Scott was Governor, DeSantis said.
“It’s not just talk, it’s action,” DeSantis said. “We want to put our seniors first and this is another example.”
DeSantis also noted a trade mission trip to Israel was the catalyst that led to a partnership between academia, health providers and Insightec, a company headquartered in Israel. Insightec has created a “focused ultrasound” treatment and is working with universities such as University of Florida and providers such as Broward Health to use the device in the state.
There are two types of Alzheimer’s disease: early onset and late onset. In the former, symptoms appear before age 60 and is much less common than late onset. But early onset progresses quicker than late onset Alzheimer’s disease. The most common type of Alzheimer’s disease is late onset, occurring in people aged 60 and older.
Within months of taking office, DeSantis directed the Department of Health to include Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias in the state health improvement plan, which enumerates the goals of Florida’s public health system. Prior to DeSantis’ instructions, it was the only one of the Top 10 leading causes of deaths in the state that had not been included in the improvement plan.
SB 806 creates a new statute called the Ramping up Education of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia for You (READY) Act that requires the Department of Health to step up education efforts around Alzheimer’s disease. The bill doesn’t appropriate any additional funds but instead requires the Department of Health to use existing, relevant public health and community outreach programs to educate health care providers about the disease.