NAPA Becomes Law

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On January 4, 2011, The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (“NAPA”) was enacted by Congress.  This Act creates an integrated national plan to overcome Alzheimer’s, which includes providing information and coordination of research across all Federal agencies aimed at improving the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and to coordinate the care and treatment of patients who have Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association Fact Sheet of May, 2010, caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias costs society a total of $172 billion, including $122 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid.  Nearly 11 million caregivers provide care to people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, with an unpaid cost of $144 billion.  In the United States today, 5.3 million people (5.1 million of whom are over age 65) have Alzheimer’s.  It is estimated that by 2050, 13.5 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s or a form of dementia.

The United States is the 11th country to adopt a national plan, behind countries such as Cyrus, Wales, India and Malta.

The Act provides that the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall carry out an annual assessment of the nation’s progress in preparing for the escalation of Alzheimer’s cases.  The Act creates an Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services, which will have members who are representatives across the board of federal health agencies, as well as 12 experts including patient advocates, caregivers and health care providers.  The Council will meet quarterly.  The Secretary will report to Congress annually which will report on progress.  It is hoped that this national plan will ultimately reduce the financial impact of caring for Alzheimer’s on Medicare and other federally funded programs, as well as ameliorate the stress for families caring for family members stricken with Alzheimer’s.

It is good to see this national plan adopted.