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Pennsylvania Advances Alzheimer’s Disease Reform

Reform efforts for Alzheimer’s Disease and related conditions progressed in Pennsylvania last week, moving closer to the governor’s desk.

The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee aims to revive momentum from a 2014 plan addressing obstacles in dementia care, which has seen limited success.

Rep. Maureen Madden (D-Monroe), the bill sponsor, highlighted the issue as a public health crisis affecting physical, emotional, and financial health, including state resources. She noted the fragmented nature of dementia-related programs across multiple state agencies.

The bill, a companion to Senate Bill 840, proposes creating an Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (ADRD) Office to provide infrastructural support through dedicated state agency positions.

Caregivers report that the existing medical and social support networks are complex and costly to navigate. Legislators heard testimonies from caregivers and those working within the system.

Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lancaster) shared personal experiences with Alzheimer’s, emphasizing the importance of addressing the issue as the state’s aging population grows and ADRD diagnoses increase.

In 2020, Medicare costs for ADRD in Pennsylvania reached $3.7 billion, with over 282,000 individuals affected. This number is projected to increase by 10% by 2025.

Public awareness and early detection are seen as crucial for mitigation and prevention. Dr. James Weeden of the Allegheny County Health Department identified high blood pressure, diabetes, and physical inactivity as major risk factors for ADRD.

The bill encourages a coordinated, interdepartmental approach and public-private partnerships to effectively tackle the challenges posed by Alzheimer’s Disease.

The bill is now awaiting full consideration in the House.

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