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Bipartisan Legislation to Create a Path to Better Dementia Care Introduced

Bipartisan Legislation to Create a Path to Better Dementia Care Introduced
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April 14, 2021
Email: media@alz.org
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The Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer's Act Endorsed by Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Impact Movement

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 14, 2021 — The Alzheimer's Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) are proud to support the bipartisan Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer's Act. Introduced by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) in the Senate and Reps. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) in the House of Representatives, the Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer's Act seeks to address shortcomings in the way dementia care is delivered.

Providing care for an individual living with dementia involves many unique and often challenging elements. Individuals and caregivers have to navigate health needs ranging from working with primary care doctors and specialists to medication management. In addition to having complex medical needs — the management of which is complicated by cognitive impairment — these individuals have non-medical needs, ranging from support with daily personal care to handling finances. 

“Individuals living with dementia and their caregivers must navigate a complicated health care maze on their own,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association chief public policy officer and AIM executive director. “This bill is the next step on the path to high-quality dementia care.”

Dementia care management is a model of care that enables individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers to more seamlessly navigate the health care and social support systems and to obtain more timely access to care. Dementia care management may include care coordination and navigation, management of chronic conditions, and caregiver education and support.

Comprehensive dementia care has been shown to reduce costs while providing better quality care. However these programs will not develop on their own because health care practitioners would need to provide unreimbursed services without capturing these offsetting savings. To encourage and facilitate the development of dementia care management programs under Medicare, a change in the payment structure is necessary. The Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer's Act would ask the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to test a payment structure for dementia care management designed to reach as many Medicare beneficiaries as possible, especially individuals from diverse communities and rural and medically underserved areas. The model has the potential to greatly improve dementia care delivery for millions of Americans, while reducing costs. 

The Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer's Act model would provide person-centered services, including the development of a dementia care plan, care coordination and navigation, and caregiver education and support. In addition the model would ensure patients have access to an interdisciplinary team of providers with expertise in dementia care management, and reimburse providers through an incentive payment based on performance.

“We’ve seen previously-funded demonstration projects by CMMI successfully reduce health care utilization and costs but providers and payers need support to enable this better method of care,” said Egge. “We are grateful to the cosponsors for prioritizing this innovative legislation. It has tremendous potential to improve our dementia care system.”

“The needs of someone with Alzheimer’s disease and their family members who are caring for them are unique and especially challenging. This bill takes a comprehensive approach in addressing these special health care needs. It creates a model for innovative planning, high standards of care and support for caregivers while reducing costs through better coordination,” said Sen. Stabenow.
 
“As the number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia continues to increase, it is vital we look for ways to better care for them,” Sen. Capito said. “By enhancing the coordination of this care, we can lessen the burden for patients and their caregivers while reducing health care costs by preventing unnecessary physician visits or duplicate tests. Having been a caregiver for my parents living with Alzheimer’s disease I know how needed this model is.”

“Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease both for the afflicted and those who love them. This legislation recognizes the unique challenges and needs of families struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and takes a novel approach to improve treatment coordination, care quality and patient outcomes,” said Rep. Higgins.

“Alzheimer's impacts millions of families in America and in Illinois’ 18th District. It is important that we continue to work to provide high quality care to individuals impacted by this disease,” said Rep. LaHood. “Our bipartisan bill will support continued innovation for Alzheimer’s treatment by the healthcare community and work to support patients, families, and caregivers through expanded policies in support of greater coordination of care.” 

“Congress can make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans who are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and the millions more who love and care for them, by making treatment more affordable, accessible and comprehensive. I am proud to join my colleagues in the House and Senate to introduce this powerful, compassionate and bipartisan legislation that will improve the lives of countless patients and families. Congress must pass this legislation and more to provide a path of hope to every American struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” said Rep. Tonko.

“Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease that affects not only those diagnosed, but also their families and loved ones. With an estimated more than six million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, many Americans know the impact of Alzheimer’s as well other dementias firsthand. Alzheimer’s is a leading cause of death in the U.S. Additionally, health care costs can be financially devastating for patients. Health care costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease are projected to be $335 billion for this year and are expected to increase. I’m proud to introduce the Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer’s Act with Senator Stabenow, Senator Capito, Representative Tonko, Representative Higgins, and Representative LaHood to help improve overall care for patients with dementias and their caregivers,” said Rep. Guthrie.
 

Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia®. For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.

Alzheimer’s Impact Movement

The Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) is a separately incorporated advocacy affiliate of the Alzheimer’s Association. AIM works to develop and advance policies to overcome Alzheimer’s disease through increased investment in research, enhanced care and improved support. For more information, visit alzimpact.org.

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