Greater Urgency is Required to Meet the Needs of Growing Caregiver Population
With today’s introduction of the Alzheimer’s Beneficiary and Caregiver Support Act in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s applauds Senators Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), as well as Representatives Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), for recognizing the destructive emotional and physical tolls that Alzheimer’s disease has on the millions of caregivers in the United States, as well as its ballooning cost to Medicare and Medicaid.
“I applaud Senators Capito and Stabenow and Representatives Sanchez and Roskam for recognizing the ample evidence that suggests Medicare should offer a caregiver support benefit tied to beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s disease to better support the physical and mental health needs of family caregivers and to reduce healthcare spending associated with institutional care costs,” said George Vradenburg, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s co-founder and Chairman. “I urge Congress to promptly enact this bill into law given the urgency of the problem, and I hope the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will consider moving forward to rapidly design and implement such a demonstration as soon as possible.”
The bipartisan legislation recognizes a promising body of evidence that suggests targeted counseling and supportive services delivered to the non-paid family caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease can delay the use of institutional care. It would authorize the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to test such supportive models for family caregivers of Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Under the bill, the models being test would include individual and family counseling sessions, follow-up assessments, support groups and ad hoc counseling or consultations, depending on the health of the applicable Medicare beneficiary.
One such model, evaluated over more than two decades in New York and replicated in other settings, found that targeted supports for caregivers enable them to keep their loved one at home for longer periods of time, delaying entrance to institutional care – care often paid by Medicaid – by a year and-a-half on average compared to control groups.
UsAgainstAlzheimer’s has worked closely with Senators Capito and Stabenow and Representatives Sanchez and Roskam on this legislation and looks forward to leading the external efforts to push this bill through Congress this year.
“Like me, many family caregivers face inadequate access to resources, training and support, and we are struggling to provide high quality care to our loved ones,” said Daisy Duarte, a full-time caregiver to her mom and an advocate for LatinosAgainstAlzheimer’s, an UsAgainstAlzheimer’s network. “Passing family caregiver support legislation not only has economic benefits for our country, it is the compassionate thing to do for millions of caregivers – and future caregivers – who need help.”