'This Week' Transcript: O'Donnell and Coons


SHRIVER: Yes, to amend the childcare tax aid (ph) so that perhaps it'd include elder care and pre-tax dollars. There's a lot of things that need to be amended. The Family Leave Act needs to also be able to include grandparents, spouses, in-laws that it doesn't cover today.

AMANPOUR: And do you think Congress, the administration, all those who have to get together to make this a reality can do that any time soon?

O'LEARY: I mean, I think that they're starting the conversation. They're starting to talk about workplace flexibility. But it has to be everybody having this conversation and realizing this is just such a tremendous burden. If we ignore it, the burden is on families. It's on families who don't have any insurance, they don't have any ability to pay for these costs. So we have to step up.

AMANPOUR: But it's also -- I mean, the startling figure is that it could bankrupt the country. I mean, it's $20 trillion, you assess, over the next 40 years, could be paid treating this disease.

SHRIVER: That's right. And I think that this president could stand up and say that he understands that this is a national epidemic. They can -- this Congress right now could go ahead and pass the National Alzheimer's Project Act. They could do that today, which actually would put an office in HHS and say this is going to be a priority. We need coordination. We need a strategy. Families need to know that this Congress, the city right behind you, is aware of this epidemic, that it's affecting working men and women.

Two million kids under the age of 18 are caring for loved ones at home struggling with Alzheimer's. This is already happening. The only people who are not talking about sit in that building.

AMANPOUR: You must have been talking to them. You must have been trying to figure out whether there is an appetite to do that. Apparently, the United States is the only developed country without a national strategy on this issue.

O'LEARY: And that's exactly right. We need a national strategy. There is real hope that Congress will pass the National Alzheimer's Project Act. We really -- that needs to happen. But there needs to be so much more than that.

There was a really positive step in this health reform bill, but we need to do much more. I mean, the U.K., for example, allows this right to request flexibility. You know, one of the women in this report said, "I'm scared. I'm scared I'm going to get fired. I'm holding on just to be able to do this. I want to be able to ask for some flexibility, but I'm too scared to do that." We need that in our country.

SHRIVER: I think what's also really exciting about this is that men and women can get together on this issue. Women always talked about getting maternity leave, but everybody has a parent. And I have found, just in the time when my father was diagnosed to today, so many more people come up and talk to me about it. They don't whisper as much about it as they used to. And you see millions of men now stepping up to care for their mothers or their wives, and there are beautiful essays in this report which we did with the Alzheimer's Association where men talk about caring for their mothers and it being the most extraordinary thing they've ever done in their lives.

AMANPOUR: Terry Moran talking about his case with his mother. And your own brothers are caring principally for your father.

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