USAgainstAlzheimer’s Disappointed with Medicare Agency’s Proposal to Impose Additional Barriers to PET Amyloid Scan Diagnostic Technology
Decision would limit access to promising diagnostic tool for thousands of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, July 3, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a draft proposal requiring the development of further evidence to demonstrate the value of beta-amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agents as a diagnostic tool for patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Patients with MCI are facing a critical juncture in their decisions regarding their health status, their risk for Alzheimer’s and their need for future planning. It is precisely at this point that access to a powerful tool, one that can differentiate among potential diagnoses, including that of Alzheimer’s disease, is critical for Medicare beneficiaries.
George Vradenburg, Chairman and Co-Founder of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, member of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services, convener of the Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease and member of the Commission on Long-Term Care released the following statement in reaction to the CMS proposal:
“I am disappointed that the CMS has imposed additional barriers, delay and costs for patients seeking to use PET amyloid scan diagnostic technology. The ever-growing population of patients who are experiencing cognitive impairment deserve all the diagnostic help they can get. While treatments for Alzheimer’s patients are limited today, amyloid brain imaging can help rule out Alzheimer’s in medically challenging cases, helping direct patients suffering from other forms of dementia to an accurate diagnosis and appropriate care. It can also save patients from a tortuous and costly diagnostic odyssey to learn their fate. Introducing additional roadblocks for patients seeking to take advantage of these promising scans runs contrary to the positive momentum that has been building around the Obama Administration's national plan to effectively prevent and cure Alzheimer’s by 2025.
USAgainstAlzheimer’s recognizes that this is a draft statement and appreciates that there is time between now and October for the community, including a range of clinical experts, to work with CMS to re-examine the evidence supporting the use of brain amyloid imaging, to reframe this decision, and to provide access today – not in years to come – for Medicare beneficiaries facing the prospect of a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. About half of people with MCI do not have Alzheimer’s disease and will not progress into dementia, leaving the possibility of a normal life with appropriate treatment. For a certain subset of these patients who may qualify for amyloid PET imaging , for their clinician, and their caregivers, few tools today will be of great benefit, allowing them to make key medical and personal decisions. USAgainstAlzheimer’s looks forward to working with the CMS in the coming months in and open and engaged manner to develop an enhanced understanding of the clinical evidence and potential benefit of amyloid PET imaging for a limited subset of the population who may have their care and lives measurably improved by access to this technology.
Without a means to cure or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s – a disease that touches 1 in 3 Americans – estimates project it will cost the U.S. $1 trillion annually by 2050. Diagnostic tools like PET scans that allow for early detection of the cause of MCI give the clinician the information needed to advise the patient on the proper course of care, and have the potential to reduce the cost burden on our Medicare and Medicaid systems, which shoulder the majority of the $109 billion our country spends annually on Alzheimer’s.”
USAgainstAlzheimer’s Action is a 501(c)(4) national advocacy campaign and advocacy network committed to stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020. An independent non-profit organization working in partnership with the Alzheimer’s community, USAgainstAlzheimer’s Action works to stop the disease by advancing policies that support research for a cure. For more information about USAgainstAlzheimer’s Work, please visit: http://usagainstalzheimersaction.org/ .