Wednesday, January 2, 2019
On December 31, 2018, the President signed S. 2076. The bill, with the somewhat unwieldy title of "Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act" or "BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act," was approved in the Senate by a voice vote on December 12 and by the House on a vote of 361 to 3. The law amends portions of the Public Health Code (at 42 U.S.C. Section 280c) to increase funding and restate priorities related to Alzheimer's and related dementias. The funding authorized in the last provision of the law if for "$20,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2024." As one of my colleagues, administrative law guru Professor Matthew Lawrence reminds me, implementation of the new law will also likely require Congressional approval with an appropriations bill (or bills).
The scope of this bill is, shall we say, broad. It is not necessarily about funding research into causes or cures for dementias. New language in the bill directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants, contracts or cooperative agreements with eligible entities (which includes "institutions of higher education") for the establishment or support of regional centers to "address" Alzheimer's and related dementias by:
(A) advancing awareness of public health officials, health care professionals and the public on current information and research related to dementias,
(B) identifying and translating promising research finding into evidence-based programmatic interventions for both those with dementia and their caregivers,
(C) expanding activities related to Alzheimer's disease, related dementias and associated health disparities.
Other portions of the legislation seek to improve state and federal reporting and analysis of data on the incidence and prevalence of dementias; in addition, a section of the bill is directed to programming by state public health officials or agencies, with a 30% state matching fund requirement (unless the matching would cause "serious hardship").
Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) were two of the primary sponsors of the legislation, which reportedly received support from "183 organizations and individuals, including the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's Impact Movement and Maria Shriver, founder of The Women's Alzheimer's Movement."