WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), along with Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), reintroduced the Concentrating on High-Value Alzheimer’s Needs to Get to an End (CHANGE) Act on Wednesday, bipartisan legislation to encourage early assessment and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Companion legislation was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).
“Having lost both of my parents to Alzheimer’s, I personally know and understand how devastating this disease can be,” Senator Capito said. “With alarming Alzheimer’s statistics growing, action at the disease’s earliest stages is needed now more than ever. By prioritizing early assessment and diagnosis, the CHANGE Act will allow patients to play a more active role in their treatment and care-planning.”
“Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease that affects the whole family,” Senator Stabenow said. “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.”
“Many Americans have felt the crippling impact and high cost of Alzheimer’s disease,” Senator Wicker said. “For the sake of those who will be diagnosed, we must do everything possible to find a cure. The CHANGE Act would move us in the right direction by improving access to early assessment and diagnosis, helping patients receive care earlier when it can make a bigger difference in their lives.”
“Early detection and intervention can help improve and prolong the lives of those with Alzheimer’s. My mother Evangelina battled Alzheimer’s for seven years before she passed away, so I have seen firsthand the toll it takes on families who have a sick loved one who requires long-term care,” Senator Menendez said. “No family deserves to go through the pain of watching their mother or father falter due to this horrible disease, but early diagnosis and assistance can make that daunting task just a little less overwhelming.”
This year alone, approximately 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease. That number could grow to a projected 12.7 million by 2050 if medical breakthroughs do not occur to help prevent, slow, or cure the disease. The direct financial costs of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias will also continue to increase exponentially, with projections indicating they will reach $1.1 trillion by 2050.
Specifically, the CHANGE Act will:
· Better utilize the existing Welcome to Medicare initial exam and Medicare annual wellness visits to screen, detect, and diagnose Alzheimer’s and related dementias in their earliest stages.
· Establish payment measures to incentivize the detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias and discussion of appropriate care planning services, including the potential for clinical trial participation.