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Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Improve Dementia Care

 

Last updated 5/1/2021 at 1:28pm | View PDF



Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.); and Reps. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) have introduced the Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer's Act, which seeks to address shortcomings in the way dementia care is delivered.

Providing care for an individual living with dementia involves many unique and often challenging elements. Individuals and caregivers have to deal with primary care doctors and specialists, as well as with medication management.

“Individuals living with dementia and their caregivers must navigate a complicated healthcare maze on their own,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association chief public policy officer and AIM executive director. “This bill is the next step on the path to high-quality dementia care.”

Dementia care management is a model of care that enables individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers to more seamlessly navigate the healthcare and social support systems and to obtain more timely access to care. This may include care coordination and navigation, management of chronic conditions, and caregiver education and support.

Comprehensive dementia care has been shown to reduce costs while providing better quality care. However these programs will not develop on their own because healthcare practitioners would need to provide unreimbursed services without capturing these offsetting savings. To encourage and facilitate the development of dementia care management programs under Medicare, a change in the payment structure is necessary.

The Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer's Act would ask the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to test a payment structure for dementia care management designed to reach as many Medicare beneficiaries as possible, especially individuals from diverse communities and rural and medically underserved areas. The model has the potential to greatly improve dementia care delivery for millions of Americans, while reducing costs.

The Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer's Act model would provide person-centered services, including the development of a dementia care plan, care coordination and navigation, and caregiver education and support. In addition, the model would ensure patients have access to an interdisciplinary team of providers with expertise in dementia care management, and reimburse providers through an incentive payment.

“We’ve seen previously-funded demonstration projects by CMMI successfully reduce healthcare utilization and costs but providers and payers need support to enable this better method of care,” said Egge. “We are grateful to the cosponsors for prioritizing this innovative legislation. It has tremendous potential to improve our dementia care system.”

“The needs of someone with Alzheimer’s disease and their family members who are caring for them are unique and especially challenging," said Sen. Stabenow "This bill takes a comprehensive approach in addressing these special health care needs. It creates a model for innovative planning, high standards of care and support for caregivers while reducing costs through better coordination.”

“As the number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia continues to increase, it is vital we look for ways to better care for them,” said Sen. Capito. “By enhancing the coordination of this care, we can lessen the burden for patients and their caregivers while reducing health care costs by preventing unnecessary physician visits or duplicate tests. Having been a caregiver for my parents living with Alzheimer’s disease, I know how needed this model is.”

“Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease both for the afflicted and those who love them. This legislation recognizes the unique challenges and needs of families struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and takes a novel approach to improve treatment coordination, care quality and patient outcomes,” said Rep. Higgins.

“Alzheimer's impacts millions of families in America and in Illinois’ 18th District," said Rep. LaHood. "It is important that we continue to work to provide high quality care to individuals impacted by this disease.”

 

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