Collins to lead Aging committee, says Alzheimer's will be special focus

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Thursday was elected chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, a group that frequently addresses issues related to long-term care. 

In a statement on her election, Collins pledged to push for Alzheimer's disease breakthroughs in particular, and emphasized the high cost of providing care for people with the condition.

“At a time when the United States is spending more than $200 billion a year to care for Alzheimer's patients, we are spending less than three tenths of one percent of that amount on research,” she stated. “Surely we can do more for Alzheimer's given its tremendous human and economic price.”

Collins also is Senate Co-Chair of the Congressional Alzheimer's Task Force.

She has served on the Aging committee since first being elected to the Senate in 1997, and previously was the ranking member. On Thursday, she highlighted several issues in addition to Alzheimer's that demand attention, including retirement security.

Collins led a push to offer long-term care insurance to federal workers, and at an Aging committee hearing in 2013 said she was “shocked” at how few enrolled. She and her colleagues on the committee agreed that the country currently does not have a sustainable model for financing long-term care.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) was elected as the committee's new ranking member. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is the outgoing chairman.