A BOLD Step in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s

Q. I have a close friend who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She is one of many family friends and relatives that have the debilitating disease. When I think about them and the health crisis that Alzheimer’s has become, I think how there should be more laws out there and more funding for education and caregiving assistance. I read about some new law last year that seems to be a step in the right direction. Do you know if, despite the current government shutdown, the passing of this new law still in motion? Once it becomes a law, what are some of the things that it is supposed to support? Thanks for your help!

A. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are currently more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and more than 16 million Alzheimer’s caregivers. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, by 2050, the total cost of care for Alzheimer’s is projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion. The report also revealed that Alzheimer’s-related costs have soared to $277 billion in the last year, including $186 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Every 65 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. For these reasons, Congress must remain committed to action on this devastating disease.

Despite Shutdown, BOLD Act was Signed into Law

Last week, President Trump signed into law the BOLD Act (Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act), a measure aimed at building a public health model to fight Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It passed the Senate unanimously and through the House 361-3. The BOLD Act is intended to allow better Alzheimer’s public health interventions to be implemented across the country.

Support for those with Alzheimer’s and their Caregivers

Those living with dementia and their families desperately need support, including caregiving training, respite care, and better information about managing these diseases. If used properly, the BOLD Act could take some first important steps towards achieving those goals. Here are some of the main features of the BOLD Act:

  • $100 million in funding: It authorizes up to $100 million to improve public education and to support health and social service agencies’ dementia initiatives.
  • It funds state and local public health departments to promote cognitive health, reduce risk, improve early detection and diagnosis, and better meet the needs of caregivers.
  • It underscores how elected officials are working together to address Alzheimer’s as a public health crisis.
  • It establishes Alzheimer’s Centers of Excellence with a focus on evidence-based interventions in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It includes provisions for educating public health officials, health professionals, and the public on current Alzheimer’s and dementia information and research, including cognitive decline, brain health, and health disparities.
  • It will increase collection, analysis, and timely reporting of data on cognitive decline and caregiving to inform future public health actions.
  • Authority for operating this initiative is given to the Centers for Disease Control, which has lots of hands-on experience with building public health programs. In fact, CDC already runs an Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program.

The BOLD Act Takes a Public Health Approach Against Alzheimer’s

The BOLD Act was introduced by Senators Collins, Cortez Masto, Capito, and Kaine last year and was cosponsored by a total of 58 Senators and supported by 181 organizations and individuals, including the Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s Impact Movement; and Maria Shriver, founder of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. According to Senator Collins, “The BOLD Act takes a multi-pronged public health approach that will create a modern infrastructure for the prevention, treatment and care of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. BOLD brings us to the brink of a brighter day for Alzheimer’s.”

Despite the seemingly universal support for this new law, a recent Forbes article by Howard Gleckman explored some perceived weaknesses of the BOLD Act:

  • Which programs get the money: The law gives discretion to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to decide which programs get the money. This could put smaller programs at a disadvantage, as more money will likely go to larger programs, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, to fund drug research.
  • BOLD’s benefits may be limited because states are required to provide a 30% match for any federal funding, though the Secretary of Health and Human Services can waive that requirement if the Secretary determines it would “result in hardship.”
  • BOLD is a $100 million initiative, but the funds will be spread over five years. Congress still must separately appropriate the money before anything can be spent. And if this law is typical of other initiatives, the program will receive much less than the maximum funding needed to fully operate.

Medicaid Asset Protection

We are encouraged by laws such as the BOLD Act as ways to promote more education, research, and programs to combat Alzheimer’s and other dementias. If you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s, we can help you face the special legal and financial needs associated with this debilitating disease. At the Farr Law Firm, we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on your family if you have a loved one suffering from dementia. We help protect your family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits such as Medicaid and Veterans Aid and Attendance. If you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia, please call us as soon as possible to make an appointment for an initial consultation:

●Fairfax Medicaid Asset Protection Attorney: 703-691-1888
●Fredericksburg Medicaid Asset Protection Attorney: 540-479-143
●Rockville Medicaid Asset Protection Attorney: 301-519-8041
●DC Medicaid Asset Protection Attorney: 202-587-2797

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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