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What We Told Secretary Sebelius About the New Alzheimer's Disease Initiative

by Published On: Feb 10, 2012

In a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, LeadingAge expressed support for the Obama administration's plan to dedicate an additional $50 million for Alzheimer's research

The administration's fiscal 2013 budget proposal will contain another $26 million for: 

  • Public and health-care provider education. 
  • Outreach and supportive services for people with Alzheimer's disease. 
  • Caregiver support.

While LeadingAge supports this initiative, we pointed out that HHS should move forward with the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act as well, in order to truly meet the needs of people with dementia and their family caregivers. 

Writing to Sec. Sebelius, Larry Minnix said:

We completely agree with you that we can’t wait; that the rapid aging of our population demands bold action now. We look forward to working with you and members of Congress as budget and spending bills for the next fiscal year are considered to make sure the Alzheimer’s disease initiative receives the resources necessary for its effective implementation.

We could not help but be struck by your remarks on the devastating impact this disease has on families who are ill-prepared for the physical, emotional and financial strains that caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease brings about. In announcing the Alzheimer’s disease initiative, you pointed out that it presents one of our most critical health challenges, whose costs will rise dramatically, imposing a steep economic price. This price will be paid by both individuals and their families and by the government programs that finance the long-term services and supports that people with Alzheimer’s disease come to need as the disease progresses.

We would just remind you that the CLASS Act was designed specifically to address these costs, both for individuals and for public programs. While we support the Administration’s current initiative, it will finance very little in the way of direct services to people with Alzheimer’s disease and their family caregivers.

In your presentation of the Alzheimer’s disease initiative, you mentioned the financial planning that people who develop the disease must go through with their families. They now must do this planning without the structure that we hope one day will be provided by the CLASS Act.

As the administration moves boldly forward with this important initiative on Alzheimer’s disease, we urge you to take equally bold action on the CLASS Act to finance the services and supports that people with this disease and other chronically disabling conditions require. Please move forward with the implementation of the CLASS Act so that we can effectively meet the long-term services and supports needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease and their family caregivers.


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