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Letter: We can’t afford not to invest in Alzheimer’s

Reading Eagle - 6/4/2024

Editor:

More than 280,000 people live with Alzheimer’s disease in Pennsylvania, and more than 465,000 people provide unpaid care for their loved ones, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. I am an advocate for those who have been impacted by this disease and those navigating our disjointed and underfunded system of government services.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface on the gaps in our health care system that can stymie the ability to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate care plan. Gov. Josh Shapiro has proposed a $1.9 million appropriation to establish Alzheimer’s and related disorders infrastructure within the Department of Aging. At present there is no coordination across the government to deal with this complex crisis. Adequate funding is critical in ensuring Pennsylvania residents have access to comprehensive and coordinated services necessary to care for a loved one with dementia.

In Pennsylvania, the Medicaid cost of caring for someone with dementia is $3.7 billion, a number expected to rise more than 10% by 2025. As costs continue to increase dramatically, there needs to be an appropriately-funded infrastructure to balance the scale and support residents — the passage of Senate Bill 840 and the $1.9 million proposed investment will do just that.

I urge lawmakers to join bipartisan efforts to pass this bill and appropriate responsible and adequate funding — with steep increases in Medicaid costs and numbers of those in need, we can’t afford not to.

Bronwyn L. Martin

Alzheimer’s Association

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