Posts Tagged ‘France’

New HHS Program Seeks to Cure Alzheimer’s in 13 Years

Monday, February 13th, 2012

A national Alzheimer’s disease advisory council has set  preliminary goals and  recommendations for a national strategic plan to slow — or even bring to an end to — the expected rise in new cases as the baby boomer generation ages. The plan’s goal is to prevent and successfully treat the disease as soon as 2025. The objectives include enhancing care quality and efficiency, expanding patient and family support, enhancing public awareness and engagement, and improving data to track disease progress.

The plan is part of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act that was signed into law on recently by President Barack Obama. The law created the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services. The new law requires the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the advisory council to create and maintain a national plan to defeat Alzheimer’s.  Members of the council’s subgroups on long-term services and supports (LTSS), clinical care, and research are meeting to comment on and provide recommendations to formulate the plan’s draft framework.

The council’s members support alternatives to Medicare coverage and physician reimbursement to encourage the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and provide care planning to individuals diagnosed with the disease and their caregivers. Additionally, quality indicators for the care and treatment of individuals with Alzheimer’s need to be formulated. The group proposed medical home pilot projects specifically designed to improve medical management for Alzheimer’s patients using grants from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI).

More than five million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a brain disease that causes dementia and affects primarily elderly people.  Some experts estimate that treating the disease costs the United States more than $170 billion annually.  Australia, France and South Korea already have comprehensive Alzheimer’s plans, and worldwide experts have been urging the United States to assume a leadership role.

“We want to demonstrate that as a country we are committed to addressing this issue,” Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at HHS, said.  “We know the projected number of patients is expected to rise in the future.  We know there are far too many patients who are suffering from this devastating condition and it is affecting them and their caregivers,” Koh said.

Other experts believe that the 2025 deadline is too close and unrealistic.  “No one set a deadline for the ‘War on cancer’ or in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  We make progress and we keep fighting.  The same should be true for Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Sam Gandy, an Alzheimer’s researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  “In my mind, that provides the unfortunate sense that we will have ‘failed’ if we don’t have a cure by 2025.”  The National Alzheimer’s Project Act provides no new funding for research.  Although some drug companies have compounds in clinical trials, researchers say they are just beginning to understand the complex disease, which develops without any symptoms for 15 to 20 years before any memory problems begin to show.  “This means that if we had, today, already in hand, the funding, recruitment and the perfect drug, the trial would still take 15 to 20 years,” Gandy said.

According to P.J. Skerrett, Editor of Harvard Health, “Like a powerful wave, the Alzheimer’s epidemic is expected to crest in 2050. At that time an estimated 16 million Americans will be living with this mind-robbing disease. (About 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease today.)  In an effort to head off the explosion, President Obama has signed into law the National Alzheimer’s Project Act.

This ambitious project aims to attack Alzheimer’s on several fronts:

  • Improving early diagnosis.  The brain changes that lead to Alzheimer’s disease probably begin years before memory loss and other problems appear. Earlier diagnosis could help families better plan for the future, and could be especially important if better treatments become available.
  • Finding effective prevention and treatment strategies.  Today’s treatments relieve symptoms for only a short time; none prevent or stop Alzheimer’s-related mental decline. New treatments that are more durable would be a huge boon to current and future Alzheimer’s sufferers.
  • Providing more family support.  Spouses and adult children are the primary caregivers for many people with Alzheimer’s disease. The day-to-day challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be daunting. Many caregivers have no training and don’t know what resources are available to them. The project would provide better education and support for caregivers.” Skerrett said.

Global Healthcare Spending Growing Faster Than GDPs

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Blame the Great Recession for sharp increases in the ratio of healthcare spending to GDP.  Real annual per-capita health spending climbed 4.2 percent between 2000 and 2008 in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, according to a new study.  Not surprisingly, the United States led the pack of 31 nations with healthcare spending as a proportion of GDP rising by 16 percent.  Next in line were France (11.2 percent); Switzerland (10.7 percent); Austria (10.5 percent); and Germany (10.5 percent).  Healthcare spending in the United States was $7,538 person.  Compare that to $5,003 in Norway; $4,627 in Switzerland; $4,210 in Luxembourg; and $4,079 in Canada.

According to the OECD, healthcare spending is rising faster than economic growth.  The average ratio of healthcare spending to GDP rose from 7.8 percent in 2000 to nine percent in 2008.  Technological changes, an aging population and high expectations are among the factors driving up costs, a situation that is unlikely to change in the near future.  The Great Recession also led to increases in the ratio of healthcare spending to GDP in several countries.  Ireland, for example, saw an increase from 7.5 percent in 2007 to 8.7 percent in 2008, while it rose from 8.4 percent to nine percent in Spain.

Government pays for healthcare coverage in the majority of OECD nations.  As a result, government spending on healthcare rose from an average of 12 percent in 1990 to 16 percent in 2008.  As a result, nations currently under pressure to reduce budget deficits have some difficult decisions to make to sustain their healthcare systems.  The options are to cut the growth of public spending on healthcare, cutting other expenditures, or raising taxes.

The Loyal Opposition

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

The Republican National Committee’s (RNC) response to the Obama Administration’s and Congressional Democrats’ efforts to pass healthcare reform legislation was to sponsor a “Hillarycare revisited” fund raising effort.

The RNC warned against “Obamacare” and pointed out that the government “already run2008-08-23-dnc-081s car companies, banks and mortgage companies.  Republicans believe that the last thing the American people want is government telling them when and where – or even whether – they can get medical treatment for their families.”  “Hillarycare” refers to former President Bill Clinton’s failed attempt at reforming healthcare during the 1990s, an effort led by his wife, Hillary Clinton.

Republicans like John Boehner (R-OH) have raised the specter of a “bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor.”  Perhaps it’s worth considering that we currently have an insurance company bureaucrat performing the same role.  Also, government administered health options are almost uniformly popular.  The World Health Organization ranks France’s healthcare system as the world’s finest, contrasted to the United States, which scored 37th.  The United Kingdom’s combination of publicly and privately funded healthcare ranked 18th in the World Health Organization’s survey.