Don’t Delay Hope for Those with Alzheimer’s

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Op-Ed by State Representative Lisa A. Borowski – PA 168

Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal, progressive illness impacting millions of Americans each day. Past inability to treat the causes of Alzheimer’s has been frustrating and heartbreaking and has led to thousands of Americans progressing to the severe stage of the disease. This is no longer the case. We now can restrict disease progression in those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We should be shouting this from the rooftops!

As a State Representative, a member of the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee and through my more than 30 years working in health care, I am acutely aware of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease. I see the challenges Alzheimer’s disease creates for our neighbors diagnosed with the disease and their caregivers. There is no question in my mind that we must do all that we can to alleviate the burdens Alzheimer’s patients and their families carry by ensuring access to modern advances in the medical community.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration cleared a new category of disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s patients. As one can imagine, this news served as a wonderful surprise for those battling the disease. However, the hope felt by thousands of Americans quickly faded when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ruled they would not provide general coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. This ruling is an unprecedented move which disproportionately impacts some of our most vulnerable residents and their families, and it must be corrected.

Alzheimer’s disease takes a heavy toll on patients. But it also has an enormous impact on families and caregivers. Without the ability to care for oneself, an Alzheimer’s patient is solely dependent on the help of family and friends, oftentimes requiring hours of work without any form of payment. At a time when prices are on the rise for constituents across the country and right here in Pennsylvania, this adds a serious burden to an already intricate situation.

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Given the impact that Alzheimer’s disease has on patients, families, and caregivers, there should be no question as to why access to medication is necessary. Time is of the essence, and we cannot afford to waste a second. With Delaware County’s senior population growing over 11% in the past decade and a rise in the number of deaths directly caused by or associated with Alzheimer’s disease, this issue has a direct impact on families and patients, as well as our dedicated memory care facilities and professionals.

I am calling on our federal leaders to do what is right and necessary: ensure access to life-saving treatment for Alzheimer’s patients. An estimated 280,000 Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older are battling this aggressive illness, and they need our help. As a proven champion of our aging population, I trust Senator Casey feels this same urgency. I respectfully encourage him to push for CMS to review and overturn its current coverage determination so all Pennsylvanians have access to the medication they need to live life to the fullest.

State Representative Lisa A. Borowski
Representing the 168th District since 2023

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