Broad Range of Health, Aging, Consumer and Dementia Groups call for Congress to Triple Funding for CDC’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program
$60 million sought by groups such as UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, American Heart Association, Volunteers of America, National Consumers League, American Public Health Association, Alzheimer’s Association, Trust for America’s Health and National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
Washington, D.C. (May 19, 2021) – More than 50 health, medical, aging, consumer, Alzheimer’s and dementia advocacy groups today called on Congress to triple funding – to $60 million – for the Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The additional funding would allow for urgently needed investment in infrastructure, coordination of healthy-aging efforts across the CDC and a proactive effort to address the health disparities and social determinants of health that contribute to brain health inequities in women and communities of color.
“Significant investment is needed to ensure that we are not only increasing lifespan but also health span,” the organizations wrote in a letter to Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO, the chair and ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. “Any efforts to improve pandemic preparedness and prevent the spread of infectious disease must also include efforts to prevent chronic disease, address health disparities, and ultimately, improve underlying health and wellness for older Americans.”
The proportion of the U.S. population over 55 years old is increasing at a rate 20 times larger than the growth rate of the collective population under 55, but the U.S. health care system is not adequately investing in keeping people healthy into their highest ages, the joint letter said.
The health care needs of older adults coping with dementia and other chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer account for more than 90 percent of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual healthcare costs. In addition, the health and economic burdens of chronic disease are disproportionately borne by women and communities of color, presenting an urgent health equity challenge that must be met with tailored public health strategies.
“The impact of COVID-19 on older Americans with chronic conditions laid bare the urgent need to address the lack of public health infrastructure supporting older adults, especially in communities of color,” the groups said in their letter. “People with dementia had twice the risk of developing COVID-19 as other adults and Black Americans living with dementia were three times as likely to contract COVID-19 as their White counterparts. As the pandemic has demonstrated, chronic diseases and infectious diseases are inextricably linked. In the absence of vaccines, good underlying health is the best way to prevent severe infection and death from communicable diseases.”
Recent research confirms that up to 40 percent of cases of dementia could be delayed - and in some cases prevented - by early intervention and addressing risk factors such as hypertension, exercise, social engagement, smoking, hearing loss, depression, traumatic brain injury, diabetes, obesity and education. Many of these factors also are risk factors for COVID‐19.
The Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program is the only place within the CDC dedicated specifically to the promoting the health of older Americans across multiple chronic conditions. While this program is the central locus for addressing health equity challenges across chronic conditions that share common risk factors, total funding for this work last year was $20.5 million, only about 0.25 percent of the overall CDC budget.
To see the letter and complete list of signatories, click here.
UsAgainstAlzheimer’s exists to conquer Alzheimer’s disease. We take on the toughest problems; bring all of “Us” together to break down barriers; advocate for research that will speed treatments to market; and drive changes that matter most to people living with the disease. We will not rest until brain-span equals lifespan - for everyone.