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WASHINGTON, D.C. – In Case You Missed It, in a Senate Finance Health Subcommittee hearing entitled “Alzheimer’s Awareness: Barriers to Diagnosis, Treatment and Care Coordination,” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) questioned expert witnesses who underscored the importance of protecting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and securing paid leave for caregivers caring for those with Alzheimer's Disease. 

During the hearing, Brown questioned, Dr. Jason Karlawish, MD, a Professor of Medicine, Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. When asked about the importance of the ACA, Dr. Karlawish highlighted innovation and improvements in Alzheimer’s care, coordination and diagnosis that were made possible by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). CMMI was created by the ACA and works with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to support development and testing of service delivery models that aim to achieve better care for patients and lower costs.

Dr. Karlawish also emphasized the importance of annual wellness visits for Medicare beneficiaries, which include testing for cognitive impairment and help with early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

During the hearing, Brown also questioned Lauren Kovach, a patient advocate and Alzheimer’s Association volunteer, who joined the organization to raise awareness after losing her grandmother to the disease in 2017. Ms. Kovach spoke about the importance of Paid Family Leave in supporting those caring for loved ones living with Alzheimer's Disease, especially caregivers who may not be spouses, parents or children.

Brown shared the story of Ellen Garber of Cincinnati, who wrote to the Senator about how she left the workforce to care for her mother, who was diagnosed with dementia six years ago.

“I hear often from Ohioans who have made the tough decision to leave the workforce in order to care for their loved ones. We must continue to support families like Ms. Garber’s, and ensure critical resources enacted by the ACA remain in place to improve care and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Brown.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause for adults over 65. 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and projections show that nearly 14 million Americans will have the disease by 2050.

Brown is continuing to push back against continued attempts by the Trump Administration to sabotage the ACA, while working to support Ohioans and their loved ones living Alzheimer’s disease.

Brown is a cosponsor of the Improving Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act, legislation to increase uptake of comprehensive care planning services for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in the Medicare program.

Brown also joined his colleagues in introducing the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, which aims to improve quality, control costs, and enhance patient and family satisfaction for chronically-ill patients by both increasing the number of faculty teaching palliative care at medical and nursing schools and through the promotion of education in hospice and palliative care.

Brown’s BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, was signed into law in 2018 and established centers of excellence in public health practices related to Alzheimer's disease, empowering state public health departments, Native American tribes, and other entities to promote cognitive functioning and help meet the needs of caregivers. The BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act also supports the Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2020 report, and mandates the public reporting and analysis of data regarding dementia, caregiving, and health disparities.