Senate Committee Unanimously Passes Bipartisan Bill to Fight Alzheimer’s

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Senate Health Committee unanimously passed the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, legislation authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Tim Kaine (D-VA).  This bipartisan bill would create a public health infrastructure to combat Alzheimer’s disease and preserve brain health. 

 

“Alzheimer’s disease is one of the greatest and under-recognized public health threats of our time.  Five and a half million Americans are living with the disease, and that number is soaring as our overall population grows older and lives longer,” said Senator Collins, a founder and Senate co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease. “After decades of increasing investments in biomedical research for Alzheimer’s, we are ready for the next step: to translate research into practice.  The BOLD Act takes a multi-pronged public health approach that would create a modern infrastructure for the prevention, treatment, and care of Alzheimer’s and related dementias.”

 

“The bipartisan BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act will fund and promote early diagnosis, effective intervention, and better treatment options and establish Centers of Excellence to educate the public and professionals on the illness. I’m proud to support this bipartisan effort to support doctors, caregivers and all those working to improve the quality of life and finally find a cure for people suffering the effects of Alzheimer’s and related cognitive disorders,” said Senator Cortez Masto.

 

“Alzheimer’s is a very personal and important priority for me, as it is for millions of Americans and their families. This legislation will help tackle this devastating disease on all fronts, from those suffering from it to their caregiving,” Senator Capito said. “I’m so glad to see the HELP Committee approve our bill today, bringing us one step closer to getting this bipartisan legislation across the finish line.”

 

“Everybody in this place has an Alzheimer’s story that’s directly related to their family. I have a sister-in-law who was diagnosed at age 54, and in just casual conversations with colleagues we all have these stories and that’s not just the United States Senate, that’s the entire American population,” Senator Kaine said. “Over 150,000 Virginians have Alzheimer’s. That number is expected to grow by 35 percent in the next 10 years. And it’s interesting: 150,000 plus with Alzheimer’s, the number of family caretakers in Virginia is 460,000. So it’s about 3 family caretakers for every person that has Alzheimer’s and I think those of us who have experience know how complex the caretaking arrangements are and how much our caretakers need support. So I’m very happy to have worked together with Senators Collins, Cortez Masto, and Capito on this.”

 

More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and the United States spends more than $277 billion per year, including $186 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Without further action, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple to as many as 14 million by 2050, costing the nation more than $1.1 trillion per year. 

 

This legislation would apply a public health approach to reduce risk, detect early symptoms, advance care, improve data, and ultimately change the trajectory of this devastating disease. Headed by the Centers of Disease and Prevention (CDC), it would authorize $20 million annually over the next five years to establish:

 

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Public Health Centers of Excellence dedicated to promoting effective Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving interventions as well as educating the public on Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, and brain health.  The centers would implement the CDC’s Healthy Aging Public Health Road Map, and would take key steps to support health and social services professionals as well as families and communities.

 

  1. Cooperative Agreements with the CDC that would be awarded to State Health Departments to help them meet local needs in promoting brain health, reducing risk of cognitive decline, improving care for those with Alzheimer’s, and other key public health activities.  

 

  1. Data Grants to improve the analysis and timely reporting of data on Alzheimer’s, cognitive decline, caregiving, and health disparities at the State and national levels.

 

The BOLD Act was introduced by Senators Collins, Cortez Masto, Capito, and Kaine last year and is cosponsored by a total of 54 Senators and supported by 181 organizations and individuals, including the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, and Maria Shriver. 

 

Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives, which is cosponsored by 245 members.