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Developing a State Plan to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted Friday, February 28, 2014 by John S. Palmer

A bill to establish an Alzheimer’s disease task force is making its way through the Washington State legislature.

On February 26, a majority of the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness voted to recommend passage of Substitute Senate Bill 6124, which would establish an Alzheimer’s disease working group for Washington State. The bill has already been approved by the State Senate. The House Committee’s analysis of the bill notes that:

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 5.6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Nationally, it is the sixth leading cause of death for American adults. In 2012 Alzheimer’s disease was the third most common cause of death in Washington, accounting for over 6 percent of all deaths in the state.

The group would be required to gather data, such as an estimate of the number of persons in the state who currently have Alzheimer’s disease; develop a comprehensive plan for dealing with its effects in Washington; and draft proposed legislation to implement its recommendations.

The bill would require the group to “examine the array of needs of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, services available to meet these needs, and the capacity of the state and current providers to meet these and future needs” and consider such specific issues as:

The group would be comprised of state officials, health policy advocates, as well as representatives from nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other types of healthcare providers involved in the treatment and care of Alzheimer’s patients. It would also include at least one member with experience in elder law or guardianship issues and at least one unpaid family caregiver of a person with Alzheimer’s.

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services would be required to provide a report of the group’s findings and recommendations to the governor and legislature by January 1, 2016.

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