Letter to the Editor: Unrestricted Coverage Needed for Alzheimer’s

Earlier this week, I joined passionate individuals at Discovery World who are calling on Medicare to treat people living with Alzheimer’s the same as people living with other diseases by providing full and unrestricted coverage for FDA-approved treatments.

In January, through the accelerated approval pathway, the FDA approved a second treatment under the class monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) directed against amyloid for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. These treatments slow cognitive and functional decline and change the course of this fatal disease when taken in the early stages of the disease.

Last year, Medicare issued an unprecedented policy that placed restrictions on mAbs to require patients to be enrolled in either a randomized clinical trial or a prospective comparative study (in this case, a registry) to receive the FDA-approved treatments.       

I personally understand how critical and timely this issue is. In 2014, I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s after she battled the disease for 14 years. My father and sister, who were both living in New York at the time, served as her primary caregivers until the last six months, when the disease had progressed so seriously that it took four of us to care for her. I saw the mental and physical toll Alzheimer’s took on my mom, and I told her that I would work to find a cure because no family should have to endure this painful and distressing experience.

I encourage Sen. Baldwin, Sen. Johnson and Wisconsin members of the House of Representatives to urge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reconsider its national coverage determination to ensure equitable access to FDA-approved treatments. I, along with so many others who have lost loved ones to this disease, would have loved to have more time with my mom, and this treatment is one step we can take toward gaining more time for others.

Terese Capizzi
Board Chair, Alzheimer’s Association Wisconsin Chapter
Mequon, Wisconsin, and Sister Bay, Wisconsin