In what should have resulted in a robust turnout among the nation’s lawmakers actually became testimony about Alzheimer’s disease being delivered to just two senators. Seth Rogen, a Hollywood actor, director and producer who’s starred in several films, testified in front of the Senate Committee on Appropriations about the rising costs of Alzheimer’s disease and to ask what the committee intended to in order to provide better funding. One look at the statistics reveals why so many Americans are disappointed that only two members of the committee actually extended the courtesy and respect to hear his testimony.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association:
- 5 million Americans have some degree of Alzheimer’s
- Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. .
- 1 in 3 senior citizens dies with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia.
- In 2012 alone, more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care was delivered and valued at $216 billion.
- The costs of Alzheimers will reach $1.2 TRILLION over the next four decades.
For the actor, this testimony is important on a very personal level. His mother in law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s nine years ago. His story was powerful, “After forgetting who she and her loved ones were, my mother-in-law, a teacher of 35 years, then forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself and go to the bathroom herself, all by the age of 60,” Rogen told the committee.
“The situation is so dire, that it caused me, a lazy, self-involved, generally self-medicated man-child, to start an entire charity organization,” he said, explaining that he launched Hilarity for Charity to raise money for research and for families struggling with the illness.
Unfortunately, we’re still facing a little-discussed possibility when it comes to Medicaid and especially Medicare funding. One plan replaces Medicare with a voucher system and then cuts reimbursement to providers. Last spring, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would see Medicare change from a “defined benefit” system, in which the government pays providers the cost of covered services, to a “defined contribution” system, in which seniors receive a voucher to purchase coverage in the private marketplace. It may sound simple enough, but under this voucher system, seniors would pay for all costs beyond the voucher’s value. Because the vouchers would be valued based on the current GDP, and because health care costs grow substantially faster than GDP, it doesn’t take much to realize that the growing cost of Alzheimer’s and the shrinking funding sources for health care for the elderly is on a course that will spell devastation for some families. According to the Congressional Budget Office, seniors would spend over two-thirds of their income on health care. As a result, many would drop their coverage.
Rogen wasted no time after his testimony to take to Twitter to ensure his voice was heard via that communication avenue. He was understandably disappointed. At one point, Senator Mark Kirk tweeted a photo of he and Rogen to his followers with the tweet, “Thanks to @sethrogen for speaking out about efforts to #ENDALZ. RT if you know someone affected by #Alzheimers.” Seth replied back moments later and made it clear he could care less about photo ops. He tweeted, “.@SenatorKirk pleasure meeting you. Why did you leave before my speech? Just curious.”
Moments after that, Rogen tweeted a photo of the empty chairs he faced at the hearing.
So what ultimately becomes of this? Rogen’s charity is doing great work and many seniors still have estate planning options available. From setting up trusts to qualifying for Medicaid or Medicare, we’re sure we can help protect your loved one’s future with proper estate planning.