Rep. Chris Smith, the Republican lead on the National Alzheimer's Project Act or NAPA (PL 111-375) that required comprehensive annual plans to prevent and successfully treat the Alzheimer's disease by 2025, today praised the release of the second National Plan.
As House co-chairs of the Bipartisan, Bicameral Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, Reps. Smith and Markey shepherded NAPA into law in 2011. The law required the development of a national plan to engage and coordinate government and private sector research and enhance care and support services. It further established an Advisory Committee of private and federal experts to work with the Health and Human Services Secretary to comprehensively assess and address Alzheimer's research, institutional services and home and community-based care.
"The release of this plan is a great step forward and we must continue to build on the progress made so far. Laying out a path for development of more effective and timely treatments, earlier diagnoses, and improved support services for patients and their caregivers will have a tangible effect on the lives of tens of millions of Americans," said Smith. "With better coordination and tools, we can not only mitigate the impact of Alzheimer's disease, but save the country hundreds of billions of dollars annually and trillions of dollars over coming decades."
As the Plan states, the law "offers a historic opportunity to address the many challenges facing people with Alzheimer's disease and their families. Given the great demographic shifts that will occur over the next 30 years, including the doubling of the population of older adults, the success of this effort is of great importance to people with AD and their family members, public policy makers, and health and social service providers." Click here to read the 2013 plan.
Reps. Smith and Markey recently led a delegation letter requesting that NAPA include a clear pathway--a set of milestones and measures of progress--to achieving these ambitious targets, stating: "Such milestones will offer clear guidance to federal and non-federal stakeholders so all parties know what actions must be taken, by whom, and by when, and should be updated each and every year." Click here to read the Smith-Markey letter.
"I plan to go over the report with a fine tooth comb to ensure that our priorities have been incorporated and meaningful and true progress is being made to reflect the needs of patients and caregivers," Smith said.
A disease characterized by steadily deteriorating loss of thinking, reasoning and memory skills, Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia affecting more than 5.4 million people in the United States, including more than 150,000 people in New Jersey. By 2050, it is estimated that nearly 16 million Americans, and a staggering 115 million people worldwide, will have AD.
The more than five million Americans who currently have Alzheimer's disease are cared for by 15 million unpaid, family caregivers.
"Caregivers are heroes, but even heroes need help," Smith said.