House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Linda Sánchez (D-CA) and U.S. Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL) today introduced H.R.4957, the Concentrating on High-Value Alzheimer's Needs to Get to an End (CHANGE) Act, legislation to encourage early assessment and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. With as many as 16 million Americans expected to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's by 2050, the legislation seeks to relieve some of the burden on caregivers and accelerate progress to disease modifying treatments. U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) are original co-sponsors of the Senate bill.
"Millions of American families, including my own, know all too well the devastating toll that Alzheimer's disease and related dementias can take. Too often, patients don't get a timely diagnosis, if they ever get one at all. Family caregivers do their best to provide the support their loved ones need, though their own health and economic security often suffer in the process," said Congresswoman Sánchez. "I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to promote and streamline early assessment and diagnosis and provide support to patients and their family caregivers. With millions more Americans, including and particularly Americans of color, expected to be diagnosed in the coming decades, we can't afford to wait."
"The cruelty of Alzheimer's holds no prejudice. Irrespective of race or gender, this neurodegenerative disease is projected to affect 240,000 Illinoisans over age 65 by 2025," said Congressman Roskam. "This legislation will aid in earlier identification and treatment of this disease and provide caregivers appropriate training to care for loved ones experiencing cognitive decline."
"Alzheimer's is a heartbreaking disease that affects the whole family," said Senator Stabenow. "Our bill helps encourage early diagnosis, relieves the burden on caregivers, and improves care for patients. We have strong partners in the fight against Alzheimer's in the House and Senate and I will continue working across the aisle to move this bill forward."
"The CHANGE Act takes a multi-prong approach to help the millions of Americans who are battling or are affected by this devastating disease," said Senator Capito. "Having lost both of my parents to Alzheimer's, I truly understand the emotional, physical, and financial toll it takes on patients and their caregivers. This legislation will encourage early assessment and diagnosis to help lessen that burden and bring us one step closer to a cure."
"Alzheimer's is a burdensome and relentless disease for American families. The path to relieving that burden requires a highly-targeted approach to improve diagnosis rates, clinical research participation, and physician care practices. The CHANGE Act addresses this multi-faceted dynamic by tackling Alzheimer's on all fronts, an approach which is essential to moving us closer to getting innovative treatments to more families affected by the disease," said George Vradenburg, co-founder and chairman of UsAgainstAlzheimer's. "UsAgainstAlzheimer's is grateful to Senators Capito, Wicker, Stabenow and Menendez, and Representatives Roskam and Sanchez for their steadfast leadership on this issue. We're honored to have played a key role in the CHANGE Act and urge all members to sign on as cosponsors."
"By taking the lead to introduce the CHANGE Act, Senator Capito continues to be a champion for the millions of individuals living with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers here in West Virginia and across the country. This legislation will help ensure an accurate and timely diagnosis, the availability of better support for individuals living with dementia and their caregivers, and the delivery of quality comprehensive coordinated dementia care," said Helen Matheny, co-founder of Women Against Alzheimer's. "Scientists and physicians have identified promising practices and evidenced-based best practices to improve care for individuals living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. We know what's working. The CHANGE Act will help these findings improve care for the millions of Americans living with dementia."
Alzheimer's is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in the United States without an effective means of prevention, treatment, or cure. The CHANGE Act supports, incentivizes, and authorizes high-value Alzheimer's patient care, caregiver support, and research initiatives to improve prevention and treatment and move toward a cure for the disease.
Specifically, the CHANGE Act:
Requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to identify a uniform, reliable cognitive impairment detection tool or set of tools that will incentivize clinicians to detect, refer, and diagnose Alzheimer's and related dementias in their earliest stages.
Creates a coverage and payment model that offers family caregivers evidence-based training and certification specific to dementia care.
Tests a comprehensive continuum of care through Medicaid that is modeled after the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).
More information on the bill is available here.
Legislative text is available here.