In Saginaw, Senator Stabenow Announces Bipartisan HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act

Thursday, April 02, 2015

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today announced legislation to help people who are living with Alzheimer's disease and support those caring for a family member with this devastating illness. The Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act would provide Alzheimer's patients and their families with much-needed information about the disease and possible treatment options. The bill creates a new care-management planning session for newly diagnosed Alzheimer's patients under Medicare. This new benefit would encourage doctors to diagnose more patients with Alzheimer's disease, and will give patients access to a doctor visit to understand the diagnosis, treatment options, and what medical and community services are available.

For over 25 years, Sen. Stabenow has been leading the effort to improve the way Alzheimer's Disease is diagnosed, increase support for caregivers, and prioritize research into treatments and a cure. As a State Legislator in the 1980s, she chaired a joint committee of the House Public and Mental Health Committees on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders to improve the diagnosis, caregiver support and research of the disease. Now, Senator Stabenow is using her new role as Ranking Member of the Senate's Finance Subcommittee on Health to champion early diagnosis and treatment options through Medicare.

"The early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease can be terrifying for individuals and their families, especially when they don't know what's happening and don't have a diagnosis," said Senator Stabenow. "The HOPE for Alzheimer's Act will give Alzheimer's patients and their families the information and support they need to cope with this heartbreaking disease. Because of the work being done by Michigan advocates and the Alzheimer's Association, this can be the year we have a real breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer's."

"More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's. The HOPE for Alzheimer's Act will ensure physicians are prepared to conduct care planning with their patients facing Alzheimer's disease. This includes knowledge of available resources provided by the Alzheimer's Association. Support from the Alzheimer's Association and other community resources helps families cope with the difficulties of providing care for someone with this devastating disease. Without an effective treatment, care planning is essential. Care planning can help families faced with Alzheimer's to be prepared, allowing for better decision making, medical care and future planning," states Jennifer Lepard, President/CEO, Alzheimer's Association-Greater Michigan Chapter.

Fewer than half of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's say they were told the diagnosis, according to a just-released 2015 Alzheimer's Association report. In contrast, more than 90 percent of people with the four most common cancers (breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate) say they were told their diagnosis. Alzheimer's disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and Alzheimer's and other dementias will cost the nation $226 billion in 2015 according to the new report.

Over the years, studies have shown that providing patients and families with a full range of information and support results in better outcomes for those living with Alzheimer's, including higher quality of care, increased use of needed community services, reduced patient behavioral and psychiatric symptoms, and reduced caregiver stress and depression.