In the past year and a half, many initiatives on behalf of persons with Alzheimer's and related dementias have been proposed to Congress and were included in Senate and House bills.
The most notable and comprehensive was the National Strategic Alzheimer's Plan submitted by Newt Gingrich & Bob Kerrey to the Senate Committee on Aging.
The research in this strategic plan indicated that without prevention, better treatment or a cure, between 2010–2050 an additional $20 trillion will be needed to care for the Baby Boomer generation with Alzheimer's.
The plan called for:
- Increased reimbursement to providers of ADRD services
- Creation of an Alzheimer's Solutions Project by the Federal government
- Funding for research
- An Alzheimer's Care Improvement initiative to train health care providers how to identify ADRD and train them to develop appropriate care delivery models with outcomes
The recent Health Care Reform legislation signed by the President on March 23, 2010 included substantial benefits for present and future persons with ADRD.
Synopses of those benefits are:
- A new medical research program, the Cures Acceleration Network will bridge the gap between Laboratory discoveries and actual treatments for high need diseases (including Alzheimer's). The program is funded at $500 million a year.
- Establishment of an "Innovation Center" at CMS to test various ways to promote care coordination with specific language to test care coordination models that include people with cognitive impairment and dementia.
- Creation of "Independence at Home" pilot project to provide high-cost Medicare beneficiaries, including those with Alzheimer's, with coordinated, primary care services in lower-cost settings.
- A new Medicare Transitional Care pilot project will provide services to seniors at a high risk of reentering the hospital. Those with cognitive impairment are specifically included.
- Federal Medicaid payments will increase for those states that provide home and community based services to individuals who are otherwise eligible for nursing home care. This will encourage more states to provide care for seniors with Alzheimer's in their homes and communities, rather than only through nursing homes.
- Skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes will now be required to provide dementia management training for nurse aides. In addition, training and certification programs will be developed for home care aides to ensure they know how best to provide for an individual's needs, including the needs of those individuals with dementia.
- The Department of Health and Human Services will now identify the diseases (Alzheimer's included) and conditions for which there are no quality care indicators and will then develop indicators for those conditions. These quality care indicators are used as guidelines for surveys and influence family decisions in a choice of an environment.
Additionally, in the Health Care Reform bill was the extension of the Part B therapy cap exceptions process through 2010.
These are significant steps towards improving the care, slowing progression, and finding a cure for Alzheimer's. Dementia Care Specialists remains a leader in demonstrating the ‘best care' model.
DCS thanks you for your heartfelt interventions and continued advocacy for Alzheimer's and related dementias!
Reference: National Alzheimer's Association News 3/22/10