The Winter 2017 edition of the ALZ Media Insider highlights important federal and state public policy issues affecting people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. 

Headlines in this issue:

Preserving Medicaid Coverage for Americans Living with Alzheimer’s

Amid discussion regarding the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and debates about entitlement reform, policymakers in Washington are examining various options to change Medicare and Medicaid. While it’s unclear at this point how changes to the Affordable Care Act and entitlements will affect Medicaid coverage, the fact is that more than one in four seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are currently on Medicaid, compared with just 11 percent of seniors without dementia. Medicaid pays for nursing home and other long-term care services, which most people with Alzheimer's will eventually need.
What’s more, between 2016 and 2025 every state and region across the country is expected to experience an increase of at least 14 percent in the number of people with Alzheimer’s due to increases in the population age 65 and older. And in all but two states, Medicaid spending on people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is projected to increase at least 25 percent by 2025.
The Alzheimer's Association calls on Congress and the President to maintain the Medicaid long-term care safety net while expanding options and support for family-centered home and community-based care. This includes:

  • Maintaining the federal entitlements and quality assurance provisions of current law
  • Providing additional financial assistance to the states to maintain current benefits and to improve quality, particularly through improved payment for staffing
  • Expanding options for family-centered home and community-based care

More information and resources:

Key Public Policy Targets in 2017 and Beyond

Last year, an expert workgroup convened by the Alzheimer’s Association developed and recommended more than 120 public policies needed over the next 10 years to achieve more ideal care and support for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Achieving these public policy “milestones” is essential to advancing the U.S. national Alzheimer’s plan. (read more) While securing federal funding for research remains a top priority, the Alzheimer’s Association is, consistent with the recommendations of the expert workgroup, also calling on federal and state governments to: 

  1. Improve education and training for those who provide care and support to individuals with dementia
  2. Establish more dementia-competent palliative care at the end of life
  3. Conduct widespread early detection and diagnosis awareness campaigns among both the public and healthcare providers

More information and resources:

  • Expert Interview: Robert Egge, chief public policy officer, Alzheimer’s Association
  • Full Report: “Report on milestones for care and support under the U.S. National Plan to address Alzheimer’s disease,” published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, 12 (2016) 334-369), please click here.

Vital Training for First Responders at the Local and State Level

The projected increase of seniors living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias emphasizes the crucial need to not only train healthcare providers and caregivers in dementia care, but also to ensure first responders – police officers, EMTs and 911 operators — are able to recognize signs of dementia and respond appropriately.
Prone to wandering and becoming disoriented or confused, individuals with Alzheimer’s can sometimes be perceived as threatening when confronted in public. In December 2016, for example, an unarmed, 73-year-old man with dementia was shot and killed by a police officer after ignoring requests to remove his hands from his jacket.
Currently, 12 states have laws requiring dementia training for first responders. Eleven states require training for law enforcement personnel and one state requires training for emergency medical technicians. The Alzheimer’s Association is committed to working with lawmakers to ensure that safety issues are part of comprehensive federal and state Alzheimer’s disease planning that better acknowledges the unique needs of the cognitively impaired. It is important that training not be limited just to issues around wandering or lost individuals but also encompass other situations such as elder abuse and financial exploitation.

  • Expert Interview: Monica Moreno, director, early-stage initiatives, Alzheimer’s Association
  • A look at one state’s effort to train police: The Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Richmond (VA) Chapter is working with law enforcement to train first responders on different methods for assisting and interacting with people with dementia.
  • Expert Interview: Carter Harrison, policy director, Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Richmond (VA) chapter

Coming in Early March: The Alzheimer's Association 2017 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures Report.

The Alzheimer’s Association will be releasing its annual compilation of national statistics and information on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in just a few weeks. The report conveys the impact of Alzheimer’s on individuals, families, government and the nation’s health care system. Since its 2007 inaugural release, the report has become the preeminent source covering the broad spectrum of Alzheimer’s issues. 

Media Contact
Mike Lynch
Media phone line: 312-335-4078