Support for Research, Patient Care in US 2021 Budget Wins Praise

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Alzheimer’s Association and its advocacy affiliate, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM), are lauding recent actions by lawmakers that will fund and advance multiple Alzheimer’s disease policies.

The advancements are part of the $1.4 trillion government funding bill for the 2021 fiscal year that was passed by Congress on Dec. 21 and later signed into law by President Trump.

The appropriations package includes a $300 million increase in Alzheimer’s and dementia research funding at the National Institutes of Health. It also earmarks $15 million to fund and implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act.

In addition, the package advances the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act.

These elements were commended by the Alzheimer’s Association and by AIM, which works to advance and develop policies that increase investment in disease research and patient care and support.

“Today’s agreement by congressional leaders reflects a broad, bipartisan commitment to accelerate the pace of progress toward breakthroughs in care, treatment, and prevention for Alzheimer’s and all other dementia,” Robert Egge, AIM executive director and Alzheimer’s Association chief public policy officer, said in a press release.

“We are grateful to our longtime congressional champions for their steadfast commitment on behalf of the millions of Americans living with this devastating and fatal disease.”

The organizations and their nationwide network of advocates worked behind the scenes for greater research support. A decade ago, when the National Alzheimer’s Project Act became law, the federal government’s investment in Alzheimer’s research totaled $448 million annually. With this year’s spending bill, research support at the NIH will reach $3.1 billion.

The omnibus spending bill also includes support for BOLD, which became law in 2018. The measure directs the CDC to strengthen the nation’s public health infrastructure by better addressing issues that include early disease detection and diagnosis, lowering Alzheimer’s risk, and preventing hospitalizations.

Specifically, BOLD is working to establish public health centers of excellence for Alzheimer’s and related dementias; to provide funding to public health departments, which will help to implement Alzheimer’s interventions and other actions identified in the CDC Healthy Brain Initiative’s (HBI) Public Health Road Map; and to improve data analysis and timely reporting of Alzheimer’s data on cognitive decline, caregiving, and health disparities.

The Alzheimer’s organizations had also supported the HOPE Act, which was signed into law last month. Since 2017, Medicare has covered comprehensive care planning services for people with Alzheimer’s and related conditions. Care planning is essential to learning about available treatments, clinical studies, and local support services. But in its first year of implementation, less than 1% of seniors with Alzheimer’s received the care benefit.

HOPE will give healthcare providers the knowledge and resources needed to better assist dementia patients and their families. The measure also requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to report on difficulties people face in getting care planning services, and to recommend solutions.

“For individuals living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, care planning is essential to learning about medical and non-medical treatments, clinical trials, and support services available in their community,” Egge added.

“We are grateful to the bill’s cosponsors and congressional leaders for prioritizing provider education which will lead to better health outcomes for people living with dementia and their caregivers.”