The U.S. House passed the Dr. Emmanuel Bilirakis and Honorable Jennifer Wexton National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act with a vote of 407 to 9.

All Democrats in the House voted for the bill, according to Newsweek, except for six who abstained from voting. Two hundred Republicans voted in support, nine voted against, and 12 abstained from voting.

Approximately 1 million Americans live with Parkinson’s Disease, including Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, who represents Virginia’s District 10. She was diagnosed this year with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a form of atypical Parkinsonism.

Wexton announced in September she will retire from Congress at the end of this term and emphasized a commitment to using her platform to raise awareness and fight for greater research of treatments and cures for Parkinson’s and Parkinsonisms. Her friend and Virginia colleague, U.S. Rep. Jennifer McClellan read a statement on behalf of Wexton in support of the bill on the House floor yesterday.

“I am thrilled that the House has come together today to take a transformative step to fight Parkinson’s and atypical Parkinson’s which would save lives and give families like mine hope,” Wexton’s statement said. “The past year has been a difficult road and an emotional journey for me, not only facing the great health challenges that come with this diagnosis but also coming to terms with the fact that I will have to give up doing what I love. I’ve spent my career uplifting the stories of those in need and fighting to serve my community, and I am proud to continue that fight on behalf of the broader Parkinson’s community and deliver this major win. I’m grateful to Reps. Bilirakis and Tonko for leading this bill, and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for recognizing the urgency of advancing this historic legislation.”

Ted Thompson, senior vice president of policy for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the foundation applauds the passage of the legislation in the House.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Rep. Wexton, as well as to Reps. Bilirakis and Tonko, for their exceptional leadership on this bill. To the thousands of advocates across the country who helped achieve this historic step toward a future free from Parkinson’s – thank you. We look forward to continuing to champion this bill as it moves on to the Senate,” Thompson said.

Dr. Kristophe Diaz is Executive Director and Chief Science Officer of CurePSP, which receives multiple calls per day from Americans who were just diagnosed.

“Many of them had been first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which shows the complexity and needed improvement in the understanding of these complex diseases. Thanks to recent progress in research, we can share a message of hope when we talk with these families. This historic bill and the drive and courage of Rep. Wexton hold the promise of fostering the collaborations that are essential to advancing improved treatments and a cure and to provide better care for individuals living with Parkinson’s and related neurodegenerative parkinsonism. This bill is a catalyst for action and is poised to transform hope into tangible progress,” Diaz said.

The National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act would bring key federal agency stakeholders together along with nonfederal experts, patients and caregivers to build a national plan to prevent, treat and cure Parkinson’s Disease, including atypical Parkinsonisms like progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). The bill would take a major step forward in the federal government’s work to confront the disease for the more than 1 million Americans with Parkinson’s and Parkinsonisms, following the model of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, signed into law in 2011, which has spurred major advances in the development and funding of research for treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

Following the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s unanimous bipartisan passage of the bill last week, Wexton’s colleagues proposed adding her name to the title of the legislation to honor her advocacy on the issue and continued service in Congress while battling PSP. One of the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Paul Tonko of New York, read a statement from Rep. Wexton during the Committee’s markup.


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Updated: August 16, 2017