A message from MA State Senator Diana DiZoglio
Among the most pressing public health crises in the nation today is the rise in cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Roughly 130,000 residents in Massachusetts alone have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia – and this number is projected to increase to 150,000 by 2025. While estimates vary, experts believe more than six million Americans, most of them age 65 or older, have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s.
There has never been a more important time to combat this disease. We can do so through the advancement of research; providing and enhancing care and supports for those impacted; and reducing the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
In our state government, it is imperative that we take bold, meaningful action around Alzheimer’s. That is why I have co-sponsored two pieces of legislation this session designed to support those with this disease and their loved ones.
Senate Bill 415, An Act to Improve Alzheimer's and Dementia Care in Senior Care Options Programs, would require all Massachusetts Senior Care Options (SCO) plans, serving our most vulnerable populations, provide comprehensive care planning services to SCO members that have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
Alzheimer’s poses significant challenges and costs to families and our healthcare system. It is considered the most expensive disease in America with most of these costs borne by Medicare and Medicaid. Comprehensive care planning approaches are impactful in reducing unnecessary re-hospitalizations, improving the management of other chronic illnesses and reducing premature nursing home placement, which helps both patient and family and reduces overall healthcare costs.
I have also co-sponsored House Bill 722, An Act Relative to Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease. This legislation would ensure services provided through the MassHealth Frail Elder Home and Community-Based Services Waiver be made available to persons diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s regardless of their age.
Approximately 200,000 people under the age of 65 are living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s and related dementias. MassHealth operates the Frail Elderly Waiver to help residents who require nursing home level care to receive health care and ongoing support services in their homes or community living residences instead of in a nursing home. Those with younger-onset Alzheimer’s or related dementias at a younger age are often preclude them from the access they need to essential services like the Frail Elder Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver.
Alzheimer’s is ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, but recent estimates indicate the disorder may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death for older adults. It is absolutely imperative we do all we can to advance research and ensure the supports are there for those facing this disease.
If you have any questions on these or any other pieces of legislation, please feel free to contact me anytime via email at Diana.Dizoglio@masenate.gov or phone at 978-984-7747.
Yours in service,
A message from Representative James M. Kelcourse: