Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey Announces He Has FTD Amid Health Care Debate

New York Democrat survived bout with colon cancer

Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey a few months ago. (Photo courtesy of the Hinchey Family)
Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey a few months ago. (Photo courtesy of the Hinchey Family)
Posted June 27, 2017 at 11:28am

Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s family announced that the congressman has Frontotemporal dementia, a disease that causes nerve cell damage and leads to loss of function in brain regions.

The New York Democrat was diagnosed with the disease known as FTD after a successful battle with colon cancer.

“We decided to publicly share what is happening, particularly in light of what is going on in Washington in terms of healthcare reductions which would effectively make it almost impossible for the average family to secure the essential longterm care required for this type of illness,” the family said in a statement.

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FTD can cause deterioration in personality, language or motor functions and requires serious care.

The congressman’s symptoms began with an occasional lost word and now has symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, like difficultly walking and balancing.

WASHINGTON, DC - June 11: Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, D-N.Y., during the House Appropriations Interior-Environment Subcommittee markup of legislation that would boost funding for environmental and American Indian programs above this year's levels. The panel approved the draft measure by voice vote Wednesday after defeating a Republican amendment intended to bring energy policy into the debate. The full Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill June 18. The bill would direct $27.9 billion in discretionary spending to the EPA, Interior Department, U.S. Forest Service, Smithsonian Institution and other cultural programs. The spending total would be $1.3 billion more than the amount provided for fiscal 2008 (PL 110-161) and $2.1 billion more than President Bush requested. Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks, D-Wash., criticized the president's proposal as below the level
Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, D-N.Y., served in the House for 20 years. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hinchey retired from Congress in 2013 after a 20-year career and moved back to New York’s Hudson Valley. He started his political career in the  New York State Assembly in 1974.

“Knowing Maurice and his heartfelt desire to always help others, we know he would want to do everything possible to help raise awareness of this debilitating and terminal disease,” his wife, Ilene Marder Hinchey, said. “We strongly support additional federal and private funding for research to treat and eventually cure FTD, and we support additional resources to help families care for their loved ones at home on a long-term basis.”

It affects over 55,000 Americans “but lacks sufficient research,” according to the family.

Hinchey was elected to Congress in 1992 and was on the Appropriations Committee.