The "Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act" (S.857/H.R. 1559) is one of the Alzheimer's Association's top federal priorities for the 114th Congress.
As many as half of individuals who meet the specific diagnostic criteria for dementia have never received a diagnosis. An early and documented diagnosis when coupled with access to care planning services leads to better outcomes for individuals with Alzheimer’s as well as their caregivers. Furthermore, documentation in the individual’s medical record is critical for care coordination and is necessary for health care providers to address complications in the management of other chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
The HOPE for Alzheimer's Act would increase access to information on care and support for newly diagnosed individuals and their families - providing essential support for those facing this devastating, debilitating disease. It would also ensure that an Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis is documented in the individual's medical record. The latest version of the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act is also consistent with recommendations made in the first-ever National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, released by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2012.
The Alzheimer’s Association strongly supports the bipartisan HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, which was reintroduced in the 114th Congress by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Edward Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ-4), Paul Tonko (D-NY-20), Peter Roskam (R-IL-6), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3). \
Following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, comprehensive care planning is crucial to improving outcomes:
- Medicare already provides coverage of Alzheimer’s disease diagnostic services.
- After diagnosis, health care professionals need time and resources to discuss both the diagnosis and also treatment and support options with patients and their families.
- Care planning services following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can provide much-needed information on treatments, services and supports that may help improve or maintain quality-of-life for the individual, their family and caregivers.
The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act builds upon existing Medicare coverage of a diagnosis and would provide the time doctors say they need to talk to their patients about an Alzheimer’s diagnosis:
- Provides coverage for comprehensive care planning services to Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease;
- Requires documentation of the diagnosis and care planning services in the beneficiary’s medical record to aid in the coordination of care and management of other conditions.
The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act takes steps to ensure access to care planning services:
- Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct provider outreach to inform practitioners about the services under the HOPE benefit; and
- Requires HHS to report to Congress and the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services on barriers beneficiaries face in accessing the services, as well as recommendations to eliminate those barriers.
The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act takes steps to implement the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease by:
- Educating and supporting individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their families upon diagnosis;
- Educating health care providers; and
- Enhancing assistance for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers to prepare for care needs.