March 31, 2002
In a First, Medicare Coverage Is Authorized for Alzheimer's
By ROBERT PEAR
WASHINGTON, March 30 — The Bush administration, in a major change, has authorized Medicare coverage for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, which afflicts nearly four million Americans and is expected to grow to epidemic proportions with the aging of the population.
The new policy means that Medicare beneficiaries can no longer be denied reimbursement for the costs of mental health services, hospice care or home health care just because they have Alzheimer's.
In the past, many claims were automatically denied on the assumption that treatment was futile because people with Alzheimer's were incapable of any medical improvement. Now, federal officials say, new studies show that people with Alzheimer's can often benefit from psychotherapy, physical and occupational therapy and other services.
"This is great news for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias," said Stephen R. McConnell, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Association. "The new policy should eliminate a form of discrimination against millions of people."
Neither federal officials nor advocates for the elderly provided estimates of the cost of the new policy. Experts said the direct cost to Medicare could be several billion dollars a year. But, they said, some of the cost could be offset by savings elsewhere in Medicare and Medicaid, because the new services will enable patients to live longer on their own, with greater ability to function.
That is a GREAT NEWS and Score of 10 for this Administration!!!!