Obama Administration’s National Plan to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released an ambitious national plan to fight Alzheimer’s disease. The plan was called for in the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), which President Obama signed into law in January 2011. The National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease sets forth five goals, including the development of effective prevention and treatment approaches for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by 2025.

“This is a national plan—not a federal one, because reducing the burden of Alzheimer’s will require the active engagement of both the public and private sectors.”

In February 2012, the administration announced that it would take immediate action to implement parts of the plan, including making additional funding available in fiscal year 2012 to support research, provider education and public awareness. Today, the Secretary announced additional specific actions, including the funding of two major clinical trials, jumpstarted by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) infusion of additional FY 2012 funds directed at Alzheimer’s disease; the development of new high-quality, up-to-date training and information for our nation’s clinicians; and a new public education campaign and website to help families and caregivers in long term care planning and find the services and support they need.

To help accelerate this urgent work, the President’s proposed FY 2013 budget provides a $100 million increase for efforts to combat Alzheimer’s disease. These funds will support additional research ($80 million), improve public awareness of the disease ($4.2 million), support provider education programs ($4.0 million), invest in caregiver support ($10.5 million), and improve data collection ($1.3 million).

“These actions are the cornerstones of an historic effort to fight Alzheimer’s disease,” Secretary Sebelius said. “This is a national plan—not a federal one, because reducing the burden of Alzheimer’s will require the active engagement of both the public and private sectors.”

The plan, presented today at the Alzheimer’s Research Summit 2012: Path to Treatment and Prevention, was developed with input from experts in aging and Alzheimer’s disease issues and calls for a comprehensive, collaborative approach across federal, state, private and non-profit organizations. More than 3,600 people or organizations submitted comments on the draft plan.

As many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and that number is likely to double in the coming years. At the same time, millions of American families struggle with the physical, emotional and financial costs of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

The initiatives announced today include:

Research – The funding of new research projects by the NIH will focus on key areas in which emerging technologies and new approaches in clinical testing now allow for a more comprehensive assessment of the disease. This research holds considerable promise for developing new and targeted approaches to prevention and treatment. Specifically, two major clinical trials are being funded. One is a $7.9 million effort to test an insulin nasal spray for treating Alzheimer’s disease. A second study, toward which NIH is contributing $16 million, is the first prevention trial in people at the highest risk for the disease.

Tools for Clinicians – The Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded $2 million in funding through its geriatric education centers to provide high-quality training for doctors, nurses, and other health care providers on recognizing the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and how to manage the disease.

Easier access to information to support caregivers–HHS’ new website, http://www.alzheimers.gov, offers resources and support to those facing Alzheimer’s disease and their friends and family. The site is a gateway to reliable, comprehensive information from federal, state, and private organizations on a range of topics. Visitors to the site will find plain language information and tools to identify local resources that can help with the challenges of daily living, emotional needs, and financial issues related to dementia. Video interviews with real family caregivers explain why information is key to successful caregiving, in their own words.

Awareness campaign – The first new television advertisement encouraging caregivers to seek information at the new website was debuted. This media campaign will be launched this summer, reaching family members and patients in need of information on Alzheimer’s disease.

Today’s announcement demonstrates the Obama administration’s continued commitment to taking action in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2013, the National Family Caregiver Support Program will continue to provide essential services to family caregivers, including those helping loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. This program will enable family caregivers to receive essential respite services, providing them a short break from caregiving duties, along with other essential services, such as counseling, education and support groups.

For more information on the national plan to address Alzheimer’s disease, visit: www.alzheimers.gov.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL): What Does it Mean?

Activities of Daily Living (ADL) refers to a variety of routines that a person normally does on a daily basis.

These activities include self-care (such as eating, bathing, dressing, grooming), working, homemaking, and leisure. The ability or inability to perform ADLs can be used as a  measure of ability/disability in many disorders.

(Image source: theinsurancebarn.wordpress.com) 

In federally tax-qualified long term care insurance policies,  the ADLs that can trigger the receipt of benefits are limited to eating, bathing, dressing, continence, transferring and toileting. You must need assistance with at least 2 of the 6 ADLs (or have a cognitive impairment) to be eligible to acquire benefits.

Know The Facts: Will Medicare Pay For Your Long Term Care Needs?

Maybe at least once in your life you have wondered if and will Medicare pay for your long term care requirements. This maybe one of the biggest and most popular questions with regards to long term care planning and its processes and more often than not, the public hopes that the answer to this question is in their favor.

Some Americans may have the wrong idea or perception that Medicare can and will cover all their LTC requirements. This is why some of them tend to ignore and not consider buying any LTC policy from a private insurance provider or even those plan options created by the government. They think that through the help of Medicare, they can get and use all their needed LTC services in the future.

Sadly, this inkling may just give them even bigger concerns and problems once they realize that Medicare does not really shoulder and pay for some of the services and facilities that their medical situation might require. So they should not be complacent that the facilities and other services that they would need can be given to them even if they do not own an LTC policy.

So once again, we will try to give helpful and useful answers to the long-time dilemma of the public: Will Medicare pay for your long term care requirements?

Yes, there might be some LTC-related matters and concerns that the Medicare can satisfy and solve but these are really limited and it would be a good idea for the public to inquire first and know every detail of all the things that they have to be aware of about this.

Unlike what many individuals believe, Medicare does not support or shoulder indefinite or a lifetime worth of long term care. It does not lend financial assistance to those who need to be confined in nursing homes and other assisted living or adult day care facilities.

They can lend a hand and pay for a certain portion of the medical expenses incurred due to a short-term illness or injury but once the individual gets well, or if the limit or allotment is already consumed, then the Medicare coverage would be cut.

Navigating Long Term Care

Long term care planning is very important for what will be a reality for most people. Options can include in-home nursing care and nursing home or other assisted living facilities.

The odds of needing long term care increase as you get older or weaker.  Oftentimes, the need for long-term care help might be due to a terminal condition, illness, injury, disability or the infirmity of old age.

Long-term care involves various types of services designed to meet a person’s health or personal care needs. These services help people live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform daily activities on their own.

Who Pays for Long-Term Care?

April 25, 2012 Leave a comment

About 10 million Americans need long-term care. Long-term care refers to the assistance and services provided to people who are limited in their ability or unable to perform basic activities, such as bathing or dressing, because of chronic illness or disabling conditions.

Most people with long-term care needs rely heavily on unpaid help from family and friends. Still, spending for long-term care services is substantial.

In 2002, national spending on long-term care totaled $180 billion, or about 12 percent of total health care (including medical and long-term care) expenditures. Nearly two-thirds of long-term care expenditures are for institutional care.

For individuals with extensive long-term care needs, long-term care services can be costly. In 2002, the average annual cost of nursing home care was $52,000 for a semi-private room and $61,000 for a private room. The average hourly rate for home care provided by a home health aide was $18.5 At this rate, four hours of home care daily would total about $26,000 annually.

Medicaid is the nation’s largest source of financing for long-term care, followed by out-of-pocket payments by the people receiving care and their families. Medicare and private health insurance provide limited coverage for nursing home and home health care. Few people make any long term care planning and have private long-term care insurance, although the number is growing.

Source: Fact Sheet

Long Term Care Insurance Rate Hikes Explained

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Costs for long term care insurance in 2012 have risen compared to the prior year and several insurers have filed for rate increases raising concern among consumers and consumer groups.

“No one likes to pay more so concern is understandable,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, an industry trade group representing several thousand specialists who market LTC insurance.  “But there is quite a bit of misinformation surrounding what’s taking place.”

To address the issue, the industry executive has been speaking with reporters, consumer representatives and making available association staff to discuss the matter with consumers.  Slome appeared today on Martha Stewart’s radio network to explain what’s taking place.

“Historic low interest rates are the primary culprit and the Federal Reserve has indicated it plans to keep rates this low for the foreseeable future,” Slome notes.  For every one-half percent drop in interest rates, a long term care insurance company needs a 15 percent premium hike to build up the needed capital to pay future anticipated claims.

Regarding the need for rate increases on existing long term care insurance policies, Slome explains it is never a take it or leave it proposition for the consumer.   Insurers always offer an option by which the policyholder can continue to pay the same amount.

The Association executive points to a recent request for rate hike from a leading insurer.  Policies affected are those offering a five percent automatic compound or simple inflation coverage, where benefits automatically increase by five percent each year for the life of the policy.  “The company offers an option to reduce their future inflation percentage which allows people to avoid the rate increase altogether,” Slome says.

This is a prospective reduction in inflation; so all inflation additions previously applied to the policy will remain in place.  “There is no reduction of their current benefit level,” Slome points out.  “Only future inflation increases would be at a rate lower and the new inflation percentage offered as an option to customers will be in the range of 2.7% to 3.9%.”

Slome advises consumers with long term care insurance policies to speak with their agent regarding their concerns.  “The protection is still incredibly important for people to have and valuable to those who need it,” Slome points out.   “Last year, insurers paid over $6 billion in benefits to some 200,000 individuals who own long term care insurance.  The largest open claim has surpassed $1.5 million and the policyholder paid less than $2,500 for their protection.”  Some eight million Americans currently have some form long term care planning protection.

Eldercare & Long Term Care Planning

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Based on some findings, 60% of the population will be needing some form of long term care sometime during their lifetime. Because of that, it is essential to prepare for the possibility of needing extended care in the future.

No other event can be as life-changing or devastating to an elderly’s financial security and lifestyle as needing long term care. It can alter, in so many degrees, the three main retirement dreams of elderly Americans:

1. Being independent
2. Being healthy and receiving enough health care
3. Having enough money for daily needs and not depleting financial assets

The sad reality is, majority of the American public undermines the importance of long term care planning and does not prepare for the devastating crisis of needing eldercare during their retirement years. This lack of planning can have a negative effect on the older person’s family, in relation to time, money and lifestyles. Worst of all, it can impact the family’s emotional health.

Due to the changing demographics and changes in government funding (i.e. Medicare), members of the baby boomer generation, without a doubt,  need to plan for long term care before the elder years are upon them. Without the necessary preparation, you may end up in a financial disaster.