By Bob Katzen

House 153-0, approved and sent to the Senate a bill requiring the governor’s Executive Office of Health and Human Service to assess all current state programs that address Alzheimer’s disease and create and maintain an integrated state plan to overcome the illness.

The plan would include accelerating the development of treatments that would prevent, halt or reverse the disease; helping to coordinate the health care and treatment of individuals with the disease; ensuring the inclusion of ethnic and racial populations, who have a higher risk or are the least likely to receive care for the disease; and implementing a strategy to increase the diagnostic rate.

Another provision requires doctors, physician assistants and nurses to complete a one-time course of training and education on the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive impairments.

The measure also creates an Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment to work with closely with state agencies and the Legislature.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a growing epidemic. It’s impacting hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents,” said Jim Wessler, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter.

Supporters said that this disease affects more than 120,000 people in the Bay State and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, that number is projected to increase by 25 percent to 150,000 by 2025. They argued deaths from Alzheimer’s have nearly doubled from 2000 to 2014 and it is time for the state to step up to the plate and lead the way in the care for people with Alzheimer’s and in the fight to eradicate it.

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