Each month, we’re featuring an advocate who engages with policymakers to ensure priorities that improve the lives of people impacted by Alzheimer’s and all other dementia remain top-of-mind in Congress.
Matt Katawicz first got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association by participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s with his family after his grandmother was diagnosed with the disease. For nearly a decade, wherever his life has taken him (including a cross country move), one thing has been constant — his commitment to the cause. He has volunteered as an advocate, worked to ensure the LGBTQ+ community is represented in Alzheimer’s policy and research, and used his voice to ensure the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) coverage of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved Alzheimer’s treatments.
“By supporting the Alzheimer’s Association, I feel that I’m having a broader impact on everyone that is touched by the disease,” said Matt. “[With advocacy] I feel that I can give a voice to the broader community and have that voice amplified exponentially because federal and state advocacy impacts everyone. Now that my grandmother is no longer with us, this is a clear and direct way to help improve the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s and their families.”
In June 2016, Matt participated in his first California State Advocacy Day. He then dove head first into federal advocacy, joining advocacy teams for Rep. Adam Schiff and then Rep. Katie Porter. Matt remembers an excellent Coffee with Congress event when Rep. Schiff took questions from Alzheimer’s Association advocates and other constituents, discussing at length his commitment to AIM policy priorities important to the cause. While many of his congressional meetings have been with staff, Matt appreciates the opportunity to meet the members of Congress and share his story with them.
“I have always enjoyed the surprise encounters with our legislators when they pop into a meeting that we were planning to have with their staffers,” said Matt. “I’ve had that happen with Speaker McCarthy, Representatives Schiff, Porter, and former Rep. Hill.”
After building strong relationships with his California delegation, Matt moved to Washington, D.C. and quickly signed up for the Alzheimer’s Congressional Team for Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.). He attended the AIM Advocacy Forum in 2019 and 2023, and attended virtually during the pandemic.
“I specifically joined the Alzheimer’s Congressional Team because the time commitment and engagement was flexible. I travel a lot for work, particularly pre-pandemic, and it was a lot easier for me to be involved,” said Matt. “I could dial in to a meeting via Zoom, write letters, post on social media. Lots of ways to be involved without necessarily having to join meetings in person. Some time commitment is expected, but it’s absolutely worth it and can be flexible based on your interests and availability.”
During the 2023 AIM Advocacy Forum, Matt attended the Rally for Access outside of the White House. He was moved by the stories of those living with Alzheimer’s asking for access because they want a bit more time with their loved ones, and thought about what more time with his grandmother would have meant to him.
During the weeks and months following this year’s Forum, Matt has continued to engage in efforts to secure access to FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatments. He joined with other Alzheimer’s Association advocates to attend committee hearings when Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure testified before the House and Senate.
Learn how you can get involved and become an advocate like Matt.
Follow along with the efforts to secure full access to FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatments online at #AccessNow and #MoreTime, and take action today to ask your member of Congress to urge CMS to change its decision.