NEW YORK, June 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Eric J. Hall, president and CEO of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA), in response to the ruling today by the United States Supreme Court that upholds major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as constitutional.
"Today's Supreme Court decision upholding major elements of the healthcare reform law directly impact Americans facing the challenges of Alzheimer's disease and their family caregivers.
"The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is not commenting on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a whole, understanding that it has mixed reviews from Americans, including segments of the population we serve. However, it is important to point out that some pivotal elements of the law hold out hope in light of the 'silver tsunami' of increasing cases of Alzheimer's disease, a disease that currently cannot be prevented, effectively treated or cured.
"Among provisions significant for our constituents, the law requires a cognitive assessment as part of the new annual wellness exam for Medicare beneficiaries, which assists with early detection; closes the gap in the Medicare prescription drug benefit; and broadens the accessibility of health care by eliminating pre-existing condition requirements and lifetime caps, which lifts barriers to care for people already diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
"The 2010 law's focus on prevention for Medicare beneficiaries challenges physicians to zone in on successful aging and, often for the first time, on memory concerns. Cognitive assessment presents the potential for early diagnosis of memory problems and allows families additional time to prepare for the challenges and overwhelming caregiving responsibilities borne by Alzheimer's disease. As the champion of memory screenings, and a strong advocate for the inclusion of cognitive assessment, AFA is hopeful that this cycle of under-diagnosis and misdiagnosis will now come to an end—especially at a time when 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 each day, putting them at greater risk for this heartbreaking disease.
"Medicare beneficiaries with Alzheimer's disease also have unusually high prescription drug costs as the result of co-morbidities common among this vulnerable population. By closing 'the donut hole' in prescription drug coverage, beneficiaries, already saddled with care expenses related to the brain disorder, will be ensured adequate coverage for their prescription drugs, no longer forcing them to have to choose between paying for treatments or other necessities like food or rent.
"The elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions and lifetime caps lifts barriers to care, allowing people with chronic conditions like Alzheimer's disease and related dementias easier access to the healthcare services they need.
"The needs of the Alzheimer's population are finally gaining much-deserved attention. The recently-released "National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease" sets out the laudable goal of preventing or effectively treating Alzheimer's disease by 2025, and tangible action steps toward facilitating important research, disseminating best clinical care practices and providing access to necessary long-term support services, especially for people with young onset Alzheimer's disease, the developmentally disabled and other high risk groups The strategies offer the prospect of altering the trajectory of this tragic disease and changing lives forever.
"Now, with the expanded coverage and preventive benefits in the health reform law, the goals in the national Alzheimer's disease plan are even closer in reach.
"Whether through health reform, the national Alzheimer's disease plan, future legislation or innovative collaborations, AFA will continue to work with Congress, the Administration, advocacy groups and other stakeholders to make sure that Americans with Alzheimer's disease and their families have access to the care they need and deserve."
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that unites more than 1,600 member organizations nationwide with the goal of providing optimal care and services to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families. Its services include counseling by licensed social workers via a toll-free hot line and Skype, educational materials, a National Memory Screening Day initiative, a free quarterly magazine for caregivers, and professional training. For more information about AFA, call toll-free 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org.
SOURCE Alzheimer's Foundation of America