WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today introduced the bipartisan Improving HOPE (Health, Outcomes, Planning, and Education) for Alzheimer’s Act. Thanks to a successful bipartisan push by lawmakers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in November 2016 that Medicare would begin covering new care plans in 2017, effectively implementing the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act. The Improving HOPE Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct outreach to make more health care providers aware of this important benefit and to report back on rates of utilization and barriers to access.
"When patients receive a devastating diagnosis of dementia, it is imperative that they and their families receive the resources they need, including information about treatment options and what medical and community services are available,” said Senator Collins. “Fortunately, following my advocacy with Senator Stabenow, CMS implemented a new rule last year that allows Medicare beneficiaries to receive a care planning session. Our legislation would help expand access to this service by increasing awareness of this policy change among physicians. As the Co-Chair of the Senate Alzheimer’s Task Force, I will continue to support patients and their caregivers.”
“With more than 5 million currently living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S., including upwards of 28,000 in Maine the Alzheimer’s Association and its advocacy arm, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM), thank Senator Collins for leading this important effort to ensure all Americans living with disease have access to the same high-quality care and support services, regardless of age,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association chief public policy officer and AIM executive director. “All members of Congress should join Sen. Collins by supporting the passage of the Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act to reduce disparities in caring for, treating and supporting those aged 60 and younger who are living with Alzheimer’s.”
“Part of being an advocate is to fight the stigma. Alzheimer’s still has a stigma and people don’t know what to do. If someone is diagnosed with cancer, people tend to rally around and offer support – it’s not like that with Alzheimer’s.” explains Mary Dysart Hartt, Alzheimer's Ambassador to Senator Susan Collins. “I want to raise awareness that this doesn’t just happened to elderly – my husband was diagnosed at age 62.”
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and more than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s. The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act requires Medicare to pay for an individual care plan for newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients. This new benefit encourages doctors to give a clear diagnosis to patients with Alzheimer’s disease, including information about treatment options and what medical and community services are available.
In 2017, less than one percent of seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease received the care planning benefit created by the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act. The Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act requires HHS to conduct outreach to health care practitioners about comprehensive Alzheimer’s disease care planning services, including education initiatives, and materials on appropriate diagnostic evaluations and explanations of the requirements for eligibility.