WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today reintroduced the Concentrating on High-Value Alzheimer’s Needs to Get to an End (CHANGE) Act, bipartisan legislation to encourage early assessment and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).

“My mother Evangelina battled Alzheimer’s for seven years before she passed away, so I have seen firsthand the toll it takes on families who have a sick loved one who requires long-term care,” said Sen. Menendez. “Early detection and intervention can help improve and prolong the lives of those with Alzheimer’s. No family deserves to go through the pain of watching their mother or father falter due to this horrible disease, but early diagnosis and assistance properly can make that daunting task just a little less overwhelming.”

“I thank this bipartisan group of legislators for their commitment and leadership in accelerating a cure for Alzheimer’s,” UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Chairman George Vradenburg said. “This is a critical step towards providing relief for the 5.8 million Americans living with this disease, their 16 million caregivers, and the tens of millions more who are at risk for cognitive decline but are unaware that they are at risk and the fact that they may be able to take actions to address that risk. We look forward to working with these legislators and their colleagues to advance the CHANGE Act through Congress and into law.”

This year alone, it is estimated that 5.8 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, as many as 14 million Americans over the age of 65 are expected to be living with Alzheimer’s by 2050 if medical breakthroughs do not occur to help prevent, slow, or cure the disease. It is also expected that Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias will increase exponentially with the cost of the disease expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2050.

Specifically, the CHANGE Act will:

  • Better utilize the existing Welcome to Medicare initial exam and Medicare annual wellness visits to screen, detect, and diagnose Alzheimer’s and related dementias in their earliest stages.
  • Establish payment measures to incentivize the detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias and discussion of appropriate care planning services, including the potential for clinical trial participation.

“Having lost both of my parents to Alzheimer’s, I personally understand how devastating this disease can be,” Sen. Capito said. “With alarming Alzheimer’s statistics growing, action at the disease’s earliest stages is needed now more than ever. By prioritizing early assessment and diagnosis, the CHANGE Act will allow for maximum contribution by the patient in health care decision-making and for increased clinical trial participation, bringing us one step closer to a cure.”

“Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease that affects the whole family,” Sen. Stabenow said. “We have strong partners in the fight against Alzheimer’s on both sides of the aisle who are committed to moving this bill forward.”

“Alzheimer’s has a high cost and crippling impact for those diagnosed and we must do everything possible to find a cure,” Sen. Wicker said. “The CHANGE Act would move us in a positive direction by improving access to early assessment and diagnosis, thereby empowering patients and improving care.”

More information on the bill is available here.

Legislative text is available here.

Sen. Menendez has been a leading champion in Congress for the 160,000 individuals living with Alzheimer’s in New Jersey, and the recipient of the Alzheimer's Association's Humanitarian Award in recognition of his ongoing work to improve federal response to Alzheimer's disease. He was also recognized in 2015 at an event at Bergen Community College celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for his efforts to pass legislation to assist those with Alzheimer’s.

Last month, Sen. Menendez introduced the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act of 2019 to increase awareness among health care providers and utilization among patients and caregivers, of individual care planning resources—a critical new Medicare benefit. In 2017, the first year Medicare began covering care planning, less than one percent of seniors living with Alzheimer’s received the benefit. He cosponsored the original HOPE for Alzheimer's Act of 2015 to provide coverage for comprehensive care planning for Alzheimer's disease and dementia for Medicare patients who are newly diagnosed.

Sen. Menendez supported the Obama Administration’s National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease, which was called for as part of the National Alzheimer's Project Act, which the Senator co-sponsored, and. applauded President Obama in 2009 when he reversed a Bush-era ban on embryonic stem cell research, which scientists say has the potential to bring about advancements in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.