UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Praises House Ways & Means Committee Hearing on Caring for Aging Americans
Calls for Congress to pass CHANGE Act and improve early detection of Alzheimer’s
Washington, D.C. (November 14, 2019) – UsAgainstAlzheimer’s welcomed today’s hearing by the House Ways & Means Committee on caring for aging Americans that addressed Alzheimer's disease and the need for new federal legislation to help people living with the disease and their caregivers.
“Caring for aging Americans is immensely important to families across our nation, and putting an end to America’s Alzheimer’s epidemic would be the first place to start,” said George Vradenburg, chairman and co-founder of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.
“Alzheimer’s disease and dementia constitute the top public health crisis of our time,” said Vradenburg, who submitted comments for the hearing. Currently, about 5.8 million Americans are living with this disease – 5.6 million of whom are over the age of 65 – at a 2019 cost to our healthcare system of $290 billion. Alzheimer’s is the only top-10 cause of death in America without an effective treatment or cure.
November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month, and the Ways & Means Committee hearing looked at Alzheimer’s and the challenges facing family caregivers.
Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-CA, who has sponsored H.R. 2283, the CHANGE Act, a bipartisan bill that would improve early detection and diagnosis, described her family’s experience with Alzheimer’s. Her father passed away recently after living with Alzheimer’s for 15 years, and her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago.
At the hearing, Sánchez spoke about how Alzheimer’s disproportionately affects women and people of color. Two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women, and 60% of those caring for someone with the disease are women. UsAgainstAlzheimer’s projects that by 2030, nearly 40 percent of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will be Latino or African American.
Rep. Darin LaHood, R-IL, the lead Republican House sponsor of the CHANGE Act, spoke during the hearing about the critical importance of early detection of Alzheimer’s during healthcare visits and the need for more providers to test for cognitive impairment.
The CHANGE Act would incentivize and equip healthcare providers with the tools they need to accurately detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s at its earliest stages—the stages where something can be done. It requires testing for cognitive impairment or progression of cognitive impairment in both the “Welcome to Medicare” initial exam and annual Medicare wellness visits using assessments identified by the National Institutes of Health. If cognitive impairment or progression of cognitive impairment is detected, patients would be referred for additional diagnostic services to specialists trained in diagnosis or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, community-based support services and appropriate clinical trials.
“We now know that there is much we can do for people who are in the early stages of dementia, and it is time for Medicare to make that possible for more people,” Vradenburg said. “The CHANGE Act is a groundbreaking bill that fights Alzheimer’s disease on multiple fronts, and I urge every Member of the Committee to support it.”
About UsAgainstAlzheimer’s (UsA2)
UsAgainstAlzheimer’s (UsA2) is a disruptive advocacy and research-focused organization that is pressing for greater resources and speed in the development of and access to effective interventions for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. UsA2’s transformative programming is laser-focused on fostering brain health across the lifespan and assuring that the voice and insights of those affected by the disease are heard, including, importantly, communities of color and low income.