Nearly half of all people with Alzheimer's and other dementias are in hospice care at the time of their death. Less than half of surveyed nursing homes have some sort of palliative care program. For people with advanced dementia, such care — which focuses on managing and easing symptoms, reducing pain and stress, and increasing comfort — improves quality of life, controls costs, and enhances patient and family satisfaction. But, as the demand for such care grows with the aging population, more must be done to ensure an adequately trained workforce. The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act would increase palliative care and hospice training for health care professionals, launch a national campaign to inform patients and families about the benefits of palliative care, and enhance research on improving the delivery of palliative care.
On July 14, the House Appropriations Committee approved FY17 funding of $1.26 billion for Alzheimer's research at the National Institutes of Health, an increase of $350 million. This action follows the Senate Appropriations Committee budget of $1.39 billion, a $400 million increase. If passed by Congress, this would be the second year in a row federal funding hit a historic milestone.
It is crucial that those battling Alzheimer's have access to diagnosis and care planning services which can lead to better outcomes for themselves, their families and their caregivers. That is why the Alzheimer's Association supports passage of the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act. The HOPE for Alzheimer's Act (S. 857/H.R. 1559) is legislation that would:
- Provide Medicare coverage for comprehensive care planning services following a dementia diagnosis; the services would be available to both the diagnosed individual and his/her caregiver.
- Ensure that documentation of a dementia diagnosis and any care planning provided is included in an individual’s medical record.
- Require the Department of Health and Human Services to educate providers about the new benefit and to identify any barriers individuals face in accessing care planning.
Who supports the HOPE for Alzheimer's Act? Thousands of advocates nationwide have contacted Congress to urge passage of this bill, and the Alzheimer's Association has worked to ensure that the bill has bipartisan support from members of Congress.