Senate Passes Bipartisan Improving Hope For Alzheimer’s Act

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The following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey, who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat.

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WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) this week announced Senate passage of the bipartisan Improving HOPE (Health, Outcomes, Planning, and Education) for Alzheimer’s Act.

Thanks to their successful bipartisan push in 2015, 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 for Alzheimer’s 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. 

 “Care plans are an important tool to ensure that those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones who help care for them every day have the support they need to cope with this devastating disease,” said Senator Stabenow. “The Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act will help make sure patients, their families, and their health care providers know about and can take advantage of the available resources.”

 “It is imperative that those living with Alzheimer’s disease 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 our advocacy, CMS implemented a new rule in 2018 that allows Medicare beneficiaries to receive a care planning session. Our legislation will 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 those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.” 

“While we work towards the goal of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s by 2025, we must also ensure seniors with Alzheimer’s get the best care possible. Developing care plans that assist families, caregivers, and seniors understand diagnosis and available treatments helps make that happen. Enacting the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act will mean more seniors will benefit for these plans. This is an important step forward for those suffering from Alzheimer’s,” said Senator Markey. 

“Delivering accessible care to those struggling with Alzheimer’s is crucial to the foundation of our families and gives hope to our loved ones. Now that certain care plans are offered, we must make sure this information is properly relayed to eligible families. The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act successfully strengthens our outreach strategy and makes resources available to those who need it most. I’m proud to have been part of this movement since 2015 and that our legislation was included in the year-end package,” said Senator Capito.

 “I know how devastating it can be, not only for our loved ones struggling with Alzheimer’s – like my mother did — but for families trying to understand how to provide the best care possible.  Although we fought to provide patients and their caregivers important services – like help in understanding a diagnosis, available treatments, and ways to manage the challenges ahead — far too many seniors and their doctors have no idea the benefit is available. I’m thrilled to see our bill enacted so we can change that and ensure patients get the resources they need,” said Senator Menendez. 

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 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.

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