Editor: Alzheimer’s disease is impacting more Colorado families than ever before, and the the emotional, physical, and financial tolls on families is immense. Too often, those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers are forced to fend for themselves in the complicated maze of the health care and social support systems. Dementia care management is an important tool to improve the quality of care, ease the challenges of Alzheimer’s caregiving and reduce costs. Despite the benefits, dementia care management programs have not developed within the current Medicare fee-for-service system.
The Comprehensive Care for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 1125 / H.R. 2517), developed closely with bipartisan congressional champions, would streamline today’s complicated health care maze for people living with dementia and their caregivers. The bill would ask the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to test a different payment structure for dementia care management. This model would provide services such as the development of a dementia care plan, care coordination and navigation, and caregiver education and support. The Comprehensive Care For Alzheimer’s Act would create a path to better Alzheimer’s care for all of us and address shortcomings in the way care is being delivered to families.
I can personally attest that this legislation is badly needed. I was the primary caregiver for my husband, Cliff, for over seven years, watching him slowly deteriorate from Alzheimer’s disease. During this time we had to find appropriate medical care; ensure that our legal affairs, including a will and power of attorney, were in order; and assess our financial situation. In addition, since Cliff was diagnosed at the young age of 55, I retired early at age 52 to care for him. This put an additional strain on our finances. Having a central source for dementia care management would have been very helpful!
I join the Alzheimer’s Association in thanking U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and Congressmen Joe Neguse for cosponsoring this important legislation already. I hope that Congressman Crow joins them soon.
—Mattye Pollard-Cole, via [email protected]