Sen. Sal DiDomenico and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature recently took historic steps to address the Alzheimer’s and dementia health care crisis in the Commonwealth voting into law the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s and Dementia Act. Passed by the Legislature in July, this first-in-the-nation legislation was signed into law by Governor Baker last week.
More than 130,000 people are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease in Massachusetts—those individuals are being cared for by more than 337,000 family and friends. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2018 Massachusetts will spend more than $1.6 billion in Medicaid costs caring for people with Alzheimer’s.
“This new law is so important to the hundreds of thousands of people in our state whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s and dementia,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “We all know someone who has been impacted by these terrible diseases, and it has become clear that we as a Commonwealth need to talk bold action to fight this ever growing epidemic. I am very proud to have played a role in passing this landmark legislation into law, and I would like to thank Senator Barbara L’Italien for her tireless efforts on this bill. I also want to especially thank the Alzheimer’s Association for all the great work they have done on this legislation and the work they continue to do for the individuals and families living with Alzheimer’s.”
“Alzheimer’s is the single largest unaddressed public health threat in the 21st century and we remain on the front lines of this crisis every day here in the Commonwealth,” shared Daniel Zotos, Director of Public Policy & Advocacy of the Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter. “This legislation follows in the tradition of Massachusetts being a national leader in health care and we commend the Legislature for ensuring everyone impacted by Alzheimer’s gets the quality care and support they deserve. The Alzheimer’s Association would like to recognize Sen. DiDomenico. Because of this legislation, families impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia and our health care system will be much better prepared in fighting this epidemic.”
Within S.2612, an Act relative to Alzheimer’s and related dementias in the Commonwealth, there are five major focuses:
- Establishing a comprehensive state plan to address Alzheimer’s disease within the Executive Office of Elder Affairs while also establishing a permanent advisory council to coordinate government efforts and ensure resources are maximized and leveraged.
- Requiring curriculum content about Alzheimer’s and other dementias be incorporated into continuing medical education programs that are required for granting the renewal of licensure for physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses and licensed nurse practitioners.
- Ensuring proper notification of an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis to a patient and providing information on available resources to both the patient and family.
- Improving cost effectiveness and patient and caregiver experience in acute care settings by requiring all state hospitals to implement an operational plan for the recognition and management of patients with dementia or delirium accountable to the Department of Public Health.
- Establishing minimum training standards for elder protective services social workers, to ensure protection from abuse and exploitation for elders with Alzheimer’s and dementia.