Massachusetts State Alzheimer’s Plan Overview
In 2010, Governor Deval Patrick directed the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter, to draft a state plan addressing Alzheimer’s disease within the state. In response, these two agencies convened an Advisory Committee that included families and individuals impacted by the disease as well as representatives from state and local health and human services agencies, councils on aging, academia, public safety agencies, and professional caregiver associations. Gathering public input, the Advisory Committee published the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders State Plan in February 2012. Following 2018 legislation (Chapter 220 of the Acts of 2018), a new State Alzheimer’s Plan was released in April 2021.
Massachusetts 2023 Policy Priorities
Increase Access to Comprehensive Care Planning
Alzheimer’s and other dementia pose significant challenges and costs to families and the health care system. Too often, Massachusetts families are exhausting their financial resources to care for loved ones living with dementia and then requiring state assistance through MassHealth (Medicaid). In 2020, Massachusetts spent more than $1.75 billion caring for people living with Alzheimer’s in the MassHealth program — a figure expected to rise by over 15% by 2025. Comprehensive care planning, however, can help people living with dementia reduce unnecessary rehospitalizations, improve the management of other chronic conditions and reduce premature nursing home placement. The Alzheimer’s Association is calling on the legislature to pass legislation, which would require Massachusetts Senior Care Options (SCO) plans to provide comprehensive care planning services to SCO members who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Establish a Public Health Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s
There are 130,000 residents of Massachusetts living with Alzheimer’s. Numerous state agencies administer a variety of programs that are critical to people living with dementia and their families, however, these efforts are often siloed with multiple state agencies working separately from each other. This lack of coordination is hindering the ability of Massachusetts to evaluate the effectiveness of policy efforts that serve those living with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association is calling on state lawmakers to support legislation that would establish a Public Health Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s. Specifically, the legislation would create a Dementia Services Coordinator position at the Department of Health and Human Services, require the state to collect and report dementia-specific datasets, and fund an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia public awareness campaign.
Strengthening the Dementia Direct Care Workforce
Alzheimer’s is a complex, degenerative brain disorder, and seniors with a diagnosis can require additional, specialized care. As the number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia continues to grow in Massachusetts, the state must be prepared to meet their care needs. There are currently more than 82,000 home health and personal care aides in the State of Massachusetts, and by 2028 the state will need to increase the number of direct care workers by nearly 20% to meet the demand. The Alzheimer’s Association is requesting the Massachusetts Legislature incentivize careers and create pathways for advancement in the direct care workforce to meet the needs of Massachusetts residents.
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State Affairs Contact: Chelsea Gordon
people living with Alzheimer’s in Massachusetts
Bay Staters are providing unpaid care
Medicaid cost of caring for people living with Alzheimer’s (2020)
increase in Alzheimer’s deaths since 2000
in hospice with a primary diagnosis of dementia
increase of geriatricians in Massachusetts needed to meet the demand in 2050
Resources to Drive Change in Massachusetts
The following resources developed by AIM and the Alzheimer’s Association will help you learn more about the issues impacting people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, how Massachusetts policymakers are addressing these gaps, and how you can help drive change.