Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota awards $750,000 to fund ACT on Alzheimer’s community engagement work across the state

September 27, 2013

Three-year investment will help foster supportive communities for individuals with dementia and their caregivers

EAGAN, Minn. (Sept. 27, 2013) — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota today announced a three-year funding commitment of $750,000 to ACT on Alzheimer’s (ACT), a volunteer-driven and statewide collaborative focused on preparing Minnesota for the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The Blue Cross commitment will be funded through Blue Plus, the company’s health maintenance organization (HMO) subsidiary, at a level of $250,000 per year for 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The $750,000 pledge from Blue Cross addresses the last funding gap for the ACT initiative and represents the largest financial commitment made to ACT by a private organization. With all budget areas now secured, ACT will start formalizing its community engagement plan with existing and future ACT communities to design and implement self-directed goals for supporting individuals affected by Alzheimer's disease. In addition to providing financial support, Blue Cross will work directly with ACT to engage communities at the local level. The goal of ACT is to foster 20 or more “dementia capable communities” throughout Minnesota, with a focus on underserved and highly impacted communities.

“I want to extend special thanks to Blue Cross for championing this important work and expressing confidence in the efforts of ACT,” said Olivia Mastry, executive lead of ACT. “As more and more Minnesotans live with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, the costs and challenges can be overwhelming for them, their families, and our state. With companies like Blue Cross on board, we can create a supportive environment for everyone touched by this disease, community by community.”

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota strongly believes in the mission of ACT on Alzheimer’s, and we are confident that this work will improve not only the health of our members, but that of all Minnesotans,” said Michael Guyette, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “The work of ACT on Alzheimer's, which is based on evidence, emerging practices and innovative tools, aligns well with Blue Cross' approach to transforming the health care system for everyone involved."

About ACT on Alzheimer’s

In 2009, to tackle the mounting Alzheimer’s crisis in Minnesota, the Minnesota Legislature charged the Minnesota Board on Aging to establish the Alzheimer’s Disease Working Group (ADWG) and make recommendations for policies and programs that would prepare Minnesota for the future.

The ADWG developed a set of recommendations for the Legislature in January 2011.  A coalition was formed to focus on implementing the recommendations.  Originally called Prepare Minnesota for Alzheimer’s 2020 (PMA 2020), it is now called ACT on Alzheimer’s.

Since launching ACT on Alzheimer's in June 2011, people from all community sectors have come together to accomplish transformative work in creating supportive environments for those touched by Alzheimer's and related dementias. No single organization owns, finances or controls the initiative. The collaboration has more than 250 participants, including more than 60 nonprofit, governmental and private organizations. ACT on Alzheimer’s work is focused on five key goals:  

  • Identify and invest in promising approaches that reduce costs and improve care.
  • Increase detection of Alzheimer’s disease and improve ongoing care and support.
  • Sustain caregivers by offering them information, resources and in-person support.
  • Equip communities to be “dementia capable” to support residents who are touched by Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Raise awareness and reduce stigma by engaging communities.

The impact of Alzheimer’s disease:

  • By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease is estimated to increase 40%.
  • Young onset Alzheimer’s, occurring in people under age 65, is also on the rise.
  • Older African-Americans and Hispanics are proportionately more likely than older whites to have Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

As more and more Minnesotans live with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, so do the costs and challenges:

  • Nearly 250,000 Minnesotans care for family members with Alzheimer’s disease. These caregivers provide 277 million hours of unpaid care, valued at $3.4 billion yearly.
  • The physical and emotional impact on caregivers results in nearly $9 billion in increased health care costs annually, including $157 million for Minnesota caregivers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Jim McManus, 651.662.2882
James_H_McManus@bluecrossmn.com