Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, joined her colleagues in writing to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to urge them to expand access to brain imaging scans used to diagnose Alzheimer’s.
The letter requests that the officials reconsider a 2013 national coverage determination (NCD) that for nearly a decade has limited Medicare coverage of certain brain imaging procedures critical for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the NCD restricts brain imaging for Medicare recipients to a single scan during a person’s lifetime, contingent on a patient’s enrollment in a clinical trial. New evidence suggests that ‘amyloid PET’ imaging of the brain is effective in detecting Alzheimer’s disease, although scans cost thousands of dollars out of pocket.
“Since CMS issued the NCD, there has been significant progress in Alzheimer’s and related dementias research,” the Senators wrote. “In light of new research showing the effectiveness of this imaging technology, we support reconsideration of the NCD and urge CMS to update it to improve access to this evidence-based diagnostic tool.”
“Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are difficult to manage without facing financial and clinical trial barriers,” they continued. “We must make every effort to grant equitable access to tools that can help individuals and their loved ones treat and manage this disease. We ask that CMS update its NCD to improve equitable access to amyloid PET imaging for people managing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”
In addition to Senator Collins, the letter was signed by Senators Edward Markey (D-MA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), James Lankford (R-OK), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).
Click HERE to read the full text of the letter.