BOLD Act will promote innovative, effective Alzheimer’s interventions

Published 4:50 pm Saturday, February 23, 2019

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act was signed into law by the President as P.L. 115-406 on December 31, 2018, with all of the 10 Houston area Congresspersons, including Congressman Brian Babin, supported the bill by cosponsoring or voting YES on the final bill.

“The BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act will allow for effective Alzheimer’s public health interventions to be implemented across the country.  

Research efforts for things like heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS have been successful.  We can hold that same vision for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,” wrote Alzheimer’s Association Advocate BJ Smith in a Letter to the Editor published in the Weekend, Jan. 12-13, 2019 edition of The Orange Leader.

The law changes Alzheimer’s from an aging issue to a public health crisis.

The disease meets the criteria as a public health issue because the burden is large, the impact is major and there are ways to intervene.

A similar law was passed for AIDS.

“Funds can be petitioned from the state,” Director of Texas Federal Public Policy Alzheimer’s Association – Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter John Harris said. “It will help raise awareness and that it is actually fatal. One in five seniors has Alzheimer’s.”

It is also the sixth leading cause of death in Texas with a 180-percent increase in Alzheimer’s deaths since 2000.

It is the most expensive disease in America with costs now exceeds a quarter of a trillion dollars per year.

And the burden is growing larger. The number of people living with Alzheimer’s is projected to triple to as many as 16 million in 2050, and the costs are expected to rise to $1.1 trillion.

One in every five dollars spent by Medicare is spent on people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

“This will bring federal government and all local governments under one umbrella to attack Alzheimer’s in a coordinated effort,” Harris said. “There is hope. This was passed in 13 months.”

Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) through the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced the bill November 6, 2017.

Harris described the BOLD Act as a game changer.

“Public Service Announcement can be produced,” Harris said. “One will see PSAs on brain health. They are now saying what is good for the heart is good for the brain.”

Harris added the same three drugs to treat Alzheimer’s have been used since 1996.

The passage of the BOLD Act will:

  • Establishes Alzheimer’s Centers of Excellence around the country to expand and promote innovative and effective Alzheimer’s interventions. 

  • Provides funding to state, local, and tribal public health departments to implement those interventions and to carry out the Public Health Road Map, including promoting early detection and diagnosis, reducing risk, and preventing avoidable hospitalizations. 

  • Increases the collection, analysis, and timely reporting of data on cognitive decline and caregiving to inform future public health actions.