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Introduction of the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education Act (HOPE) for Alzheimer's

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. MARKEY of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act. I would like to thank my colleague and fellow co-chair of the bipartisan Alzheimer's Task Force, Mr. Chris Smith of New Jersey, for partnering with me on this important legislation.

* An estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and 1 in 10 individuals has a family member with the disease. Unless science finds a way to prevent or cure it, nearly 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer's disease by the year 2050.

* The HOPE Act aims to increase detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and provide access, information, and support for newly diagnosed patients and their families. The bill would provide for Medicare coverage of comprehensive Alzheimer's disease and other dementia diagnoses and services in order to improve care and outcomes for Americans living with the disease.

* At present, most people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias have not been diagnosed. This only contributes to the difficulty surrounding this disease. Data from a recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine conducted from 2002 to 2003 show that only 19 percent of people age 65 with dementia had a diagnosis of the condition in their primary care medical record. In addition, ethnic and racial populations at higher risk for Alzheimer's are less likely than whites to have a diagnosis of the condition.

* Delays in diagnosis have various negative consequences for patients and their families. One such serious consequence is that if individuals do not receive treatments early, when available medications are more likely to be effective, then families have less opportunity to make legal, financial and care plans while the person living with Alzheimer's or dementia is still capable.

* While America works towards investing more in research for Alzheimer's to move towards a cure for this devastating disease, we must also help the many affected families to plan for the care of the patients. This bipartisan legislation is a good step in ensuring these important steps are taken.

* The Alzheimer's Association has endorsed our legislation, which will increase the likelihood that Alzheimer's will be diagnosed sooner and help individuals plan for the required care associated with Alzheimer's. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on this important issue throughout the legislative process.

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