This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a draft framework of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. The plan is a stipulation of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (see ARF related news story). The draft framework offers a broad outline that will be fleshed out in much more detail in the coming months, said Ronald Petersen, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Petersen chairs the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services, which reviews and makes recommendations for the National Plan (see ARF related news story).
The draft framework consists of five major goals:
- Prevent and Effectively Treat Alzheimer’s Disease by 2025
- Enhance Care Quality and Efficiency
- Expand Patient and Family Support
- Enhance Public Awareness and Engagement
- Improve Data to Track Progress
The framework lays out broad strategies to achieve these goals. “Overall, the draft is too passive and does not reflect the urgency of the problem," wrote Jeffrey Cummings, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Las Vegas, in an e-mail to ARF. "We need to think big to find a solution to the impending AD epidemic,” he wrote. Petersen told ARF that the important thing for now is to get the draft out so that advisory committees, scientists, advocacy groups, and the public can weigh in. “Obviously, we are at a very early phase, and I was struck by the broad nature and the generality of the plan,” said Petersen.
NAPA does not appropriate any funds to put the National Plan into action. "The weakness of the draft goals and, in particular, the failure to call for a substantive increase in research funding seems like a preemptive surrender to those who would deny the increase in appropriations necessary to tackle this problem head on,” wrote Cummings. Petersen said that the Advisory Committee could make recommendations for appropriations based on the finalized plan and the budget that would be required to see it through. “That will give advocacy groups motivation to go to Capitol Hill and the executive branch and say, ‘You have signed this bill into law and here are the recommendations that emerged—what are you going to do about it?’” said Petersen.
The HHS seeks input from interested parties through 8 February 2012. Comments can be sent to NAPA@hhs.gov. Petersen indicated that the finalized plan might be complete by late spring 2012.—Tom Fagan.