During the 2015 Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum in Washington DC last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with Andrew Nyhus, an ambitious young staffer to North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer.
As an advocate representing North Dakota at the forum, I had to ask our congressional leaders to stand by us with full support for the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, in addition to supporting an extra $300 million in NIH funding to support research efforts.
Nyhus, hardly out of his own pull-ups, said he understood the gravity of the disease and that he, too, has “wiped butts” in nursing homes and didn’t find the experience all too pleasing.
Instead of raising a stink, I opted not to poo-poo his disregard for the admirable job of caring for the elderly. I listened and watched carefully as he pulled out a sheet of paper and drew me a pie chart indicating the NIH is already overly-funded and that an additional $300 million just wouldn’t work.
I think it’s safe to say that Andy flushed our NIH funding dreams down the toilet.
Never mind the fact that Medicaid payouts are plugging up our nation’s fiscal plumbing and will begin to overflow as Baby Boomers start needing their own butts wiped.
Nyhus just couldn’t spare a square. Not even half a ply. His response reeked of disinterest and boredom.
My face flushed with disappointment.
Not everyone raised such a stink. Instead of giving me a nickle-and-dime excuse as to why funding Alzheimer’s research is a bad idea, Senator John Hoeven actually gave me some of his time, explaining how his own family has been affected by the disease. His empathy and grace – and support – for more funding at a federal level, gave me hope that my efforts in DC were not wasted.
I hope that next year when I visit Nyhus on the Hill, he won’t skidmark the issue and make such an ass out of himself.