U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) today introduced the bipartisan "Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act" to help combat Alzheimer's disease and support those suffering or caring for a family member with this devastating illness. The HOPE for Alzheimer's Act will help doctors detect Alzheimer's disease in their patients earlier, and ensure patients and families are better equipped with knowledge of treatment options and support programs available to them. The bill does this by streamlining the process for accessing and paying for services under Medicare. Stabenow and Collins worked closely with the Alzheimer's Association, the world's leading voluntary health organization for Alzheimer's care, support and research, on the bill.
"Alzheimer's affects a growing number of Americans, including one out of nine seniors," said Senator Stabenow. "Too many people suffering with this debilitating illness do not get diagnosed or know all of the treatment options available to them. The HOPE for Alzheimer's Act helps ensure earlier diagnosis and helps give Alzheimer's patients and their families the information and support they need to cope with this heartbreaking disease."
"As many as half of the estimated 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer's have never received a formal diagnosis," Senator Collins said. "The HOPE for Alzheimer's Act will increase the number of people receiving an early diagnosis, which provides the opportunity for individuals and their caregivers to develop a plan of care. It will also increase access to information, care and support for newly- diagnosed individuals and their families, providing essential support for those facing this devastating and debilitating disease."
"The Alzheimer's Association is grateful to Senator Stabenow for crafting this legislation and Senator Collins and Representatives Markey and Smith for their leadership in re-introducing this important bi-partisan legislation," said Robert Egge, the Alzheimer's Association's Vice President of Public Policy. "Their sustained leadership is critical to advancing issues and improving quality of life for the growing Alzheimer's community as we all work to meet the National Alzheimer's Plan's essential timeline to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer's disease by 2025."
Right now, many patients with Alzheimer's warning signs do not undergo proper testing. One study indicated only 19 percent of people over age 65 with dementia had a diagnosis recorded in their medical record. The Stabenow-Collins bill would help patients have better access to comprehensive diagnostic testing to increase the likelihood that the disease can be detected early. The diagnostic test includes a full review of an individual's medical history, as well as physical and mental status testing.
The bill would also ensure patients and their families had access to a care planning session with their doctor to help them understand the diagnosis, treatment options, and what medical and community services are available. Over the years, studies have shown that providing patients and families with a full range of information and support results in better outcomes for those living with Alzheimer's, including higher quality of care, increased use of needed community services, reduced patient behavioral and psychiatric symptoms, and reduced caregiver stress and depression.