Support for better mental health care has grown tremendously in the Lone Star State. Just last year, the state's funding notoriously ranked 49th in the nation, but legislators have made landmark moves to help change this. Through increased funding for mental health care, many Texans now have renewed hope in the Lone Star State's commitment to supporting those who suffer from mental illness.

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I'm proud to introduce Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), a fantastic organization focused on advancing Latinas in California. For 25 years, HOPE has helped over 40,000 Latinas attain better education, have access to health care, increase their civic participation, and achieve economic empowerment.

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Alzheimer's disease doesn't just affect those who are diagnosed with the disease, it places a heavy burden on those who care for Alzheimer's patients. In Texas, 1.3 million unpaid caregivers provide care to over 340,000 individuals with Alzheimer's. This equates to 1.5 billion hours of unpaid care at a cost of $17.6 billion per year in the Lone Star State alone.

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The Alzheimer's Association turned Washington, D.C. purple this week for its 26th annual Alzheimer's Association Advocacy Forum! Alzheimer's patients, caregivers for loved ones with the disease, and other advocates from all 50 states gathered to speak with their members of Congress about legislation that could advance Alzheimer's research, improve patient access to diagnostic tests and treatments, and promote education and awareness about the disease.

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According to a landmark 2002 report, lack of insurance--more than any other demographic or economic barrier--negatively affects the quality and availability of health care received by minorities. In the spirit of this year's National Minority Health Month theme, "Prevention is Power," we take a look at the how access to preventative care through health insurance can promote health equity.

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Speeding safe and effective medicines to patients begins with smart policy. Over the last 20 years, the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) has played a key role in ensuring that the FDA reviews potential treatments quickly and efficiently so that people across the country can benefit from new breakthroughs. Now that the FDA has spent over a year and a half implementing its PDUFA V goals, take a look at our interactive timeline to view the progress made so far.

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The U.S. government has designated April as Minority Health Awareness Month. This year's theme, "Prevention is Power," demonstrates how improved access to preventative care and medicines can reduce health disparities in Texas and beyond.

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Giving everyone the chance they deserve to reach their full potential starts by improving health and eliminating health disparities in all our communities. Health disparities refer to variations in health care access or different rates of disease amongst different groups of people. This month's designation as National Minority Health Month offers an ideal opportunity to examine how public policies can reduce health disparities and promote more equitable access to health care.

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Over 40% of the U.S. population lives with a long-term disease or disability, but for many, no treatments or cures exist. Not one medicine exists to treat the entire spectrum of people who need it. So how can we find new solutions for patients with chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, rare diseases such as ALS, multiple sclerosis, or even Alzheimer's? The answer lies in discovery.

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Steady scientific progress has solved many of our society's major health challenges. In Texas, students, researchers, and policymakers alike have led the way in pursuing the medicines of tomorrow by embracing the spirit of collaboration. This week's Links demonstrate how innovative thinking benefits people in the Lone Star State and beyond:

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