UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Welcomes Bipartisan Introduction of CHANGE Act to Encourage Early Detection and Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s
The Concentrating on High-Value Alzheimer’s Needs to Get to an End (CHANGE) Act Encourages Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Access to Interventions
Washington, D.C. (May 19, 2021) – UsAgainstAlzheimer’s welcomed the bipartisan introduction today in Congress of the CHANGE Act to promote earlier detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease by healthcare providers during the Annual Wellness Visit by patients covered by Medicare.
The Concentrating on High-Value Alzheimer’s Needs to Get to an End (CHANGE) Act was introduced in the House today by Reps. Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Fred Upton (R-MI). The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
“Someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every minute, and the CHANGE Act is needed because more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s cases in adults over 65 years old go unrecognized,” said George Vradenburg, chairman and co-founder of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.
“The CHANGE Act would encourage the need for accurate early detection of Alzheimer’s, which matters because it is possible to slow, delay, or potentially even prevent Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,” he added. A 2020 research study from the Lancet Commission found that up to 40 percent of dementia cases could be preventable through implementing behavior changes around 12 modifiable risk factors.
“We thank these Senate and House sponsors for their leadership in the fight against Alzheimer’s and look forward to working with these legislators and their colleagues to advance the CHANGE Act and strengthen early detection policies,” Vradenburg said.
The CHANGE Act would improve the Welcome to Medicare and Annual Wellness Visit preventive benefits and ensure Medicare providers fulfill the detection of cognitive impairment requirement in a more effective manner by requiring providers to use screening tools designed to detect cognitive impairment and signs of Alzheimer’s or dementias in the early stages. The legislation directs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to require the use of cognitive impairment detection tools identified by the National Institute on Aging during the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit and would add detecting cognitive impairment as a requirement of the “Welcome to Medicare” benefit. It also includes payment measures which incentivize the detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias and discussion of appropriate care planning services, including potential for clinical trial participation.
When Americans are diagnosed earlier, they can take steps to try to mitigate the progression of the disease, engage in care planning, and learn about the availability of clinical trials.
Early detection is critical to addressing brain health disparities that affect communities of color. For example, Black and Latino Americans are less likely to receive a timely diagnosis when compared to White Americans and are less likely to be enrolled in clinical research.
In March, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s launched BrainGuide™, a free web- and phone-based platform that helps people concerned about their memory or brain health. BrainGuide has a questionnaire, which is available in English or Spanish, that can be taken either by an individual or a caregiver. Based on the responses to the question, they then received the information and resources necessary to start important conversations with healthcare providers that could lead to more accurate early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
UsAgainstAlzheimer’s exists to conquer Alzheimer’s disease. We take on the toughest problems; bring all of “Us” together to break down barriers; advocate for research that will speed treatments to market; and drive changes that matter most to people living with the disease. We will not rest until brain-span equals lifespan - for everyone.