Alzheimer's advisory council discusses initial draft of National Alzheimer's Plan
During a conference call meeting among members of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services and Health and Human Services (HHS) officials, a robust discussion took place as progress toward the development of the country's first ever National Alzheimer's Plan continued. Members of the Advisory Council focused their discussion on the initial draft plan released by the Department of Health and Human Services last month, as well as the recommendations they are charged with delivering to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Congress.
During the four-hour meeting, participants stressed the importance of adding new resources, as well as leveraging existing ones, to overcome Alzheimer's as quickly as possible, including by fostering collaboration between public and private entities.
"I believe we all appreciate the comprehensive scope of the initial draft, and its many goals and strategies identified in this first draft. Today's discussion also demonstrated that important opportunities to strengthen the plan still exist in a number of areas, including research, clinical care and in services for those millions of Americans with Alzheimer's in our communities across the country," said Harry Johns, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association and member of the Advisory Council. "With an estimated 5.4 million people affected by the disease today and more than 15 million friends and family members caring for them, it is clear to all participants what's at stake and the importance of producing the strongest possible plan."
Last week, the Alzheimer's Association released its annual Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, which revealed that care costs for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias will reach $200 billion, with the lion's share of these costs borne by Medicare and Medicaid. Already today, Medicare payments for an older person with Alzheimer's and other dementias are nearly three times higher and Medicaid payments are 19 times higher than for seniors without Alzheimer's and other dementias.
These staggering costs will only soar higher as more aging baby boomers develop the disease in the coming years. The development of a strong National Alzheimer's Plan is the first significant opportunity to address the financial burden of this disease on American families, Medicare and Medicaid, and to begin to change the projected course of the crisis.
One theme discussed during the Advisory Council meeting that will be important to realizing the full potential of the National Alzheimer's Plan is the active monitoring and transparent reporting of progress in implementing the included actions. As Robert Egge, vice president of public policy for the Alzheimer's Association stated in comments to the advisory council, "It would be difficult to overstate just how critical we believe monitoring and reporting on progress will be to securing important outcomes, particularly in the first year of the plan's implementation. This must be pursued in a timely, transparent way that will ensure accountability in implementing necessary action steps and produce meaningful outcomes once the plan is set in motion."
There will be a revised version of the draft plan issued in early April. The advisory council will have a face-to-face meeting on April 17 to discuss the latest iteration of the plan. The Association will continue to support the process underway to develop a strong National Alzheimer's Plan working in concert with the Department of Health and Human Services and the advisory council.
The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. For more information, visit www.alz.org.