Alzheimer’s affects everyone. Especially the Black community.
Alzheimer’s is a crippling, deadly disease affecting millions of Americans and their families. Once diagnosed, its progressive nature takes a toll not only on the individual afflicted, but their family members. Most of us know someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s and recognize the tremendous impact it has on a family, rupturing relationships as memories fade, and names and faces are forgotten.
The fight against Alzheimer’s has been raging since it was first described by the German doctor Alois Alzheimer in 1906. It is now recognized as the most prevalent form of dementia among older people, affecting more than 47 million people worldwide. By 2030, that number is expected to nearly double.
Treatment is difficult to come by, and many medical professionals encourage preventative measures – most notably staying active, physically, and mentally, and getting good sleep. Nevertheless, helpful medications do exist, and promising therapies are on the horizon.
As a state representative and member of the Pennsylvania House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee, I understand the importance of ensuring access to preemptive medications in the fight against Alzheimer’s. The Biden administration has called for the U.S. to lead the fight against diseases such as cancer, diabetes and HIV, and I want to ensure that the same urgency is given to those suffering from the impacts of Alzheimer’s. With patients, families, and caregivers being affected daily, there is no other option but to move swiftly in the direction of clearing this new class of Alzheimer’s drugs – for general use and coverage by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
It is an unfortunate but unsurprising reality that, according to the CDC, Black Americans are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than white Americans in the U.S. The same can be said for cancer, diabetes and countless other diseases. This disparity boils down to a lack of medical access, poor living conditions, and a lack of healthy food choices for Black Americans. That’s why, when it comes to Alzheimer’s specifically, we must invest in underprivileged communities and provide wide-ranging access to medications that can stave off illness.
By not covering these novel Alzheimer’s drugs and calling for all users to submit themselves for clinical trials, the CMS is denying millions of Americans the ability to live happy, healthy lives. This behavior is harmful and prejudicial to the most vulnerable in our society and needs to be remedied. I urge Sen. Bob Casey to fight for an immediate reversal of the decision made by CMS and to increase access to disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s patients.