Medicare should cover Alzheimer’s treatment

To the editor:

As the year new year begins, I want to thank the Gibbon area community, our family and friends for supporting Team Gibbon in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising for 2022. With the support, our team raised over $30,000 and brought much awareness to Alzheimer’s through our Music for Memories concert featuring Jay Allen. The journey continues and we continue to fundraise to support those living with this terrible disease. But now we need help to advocate for those living with this disease.

As a caregiver to my mother who was diagnosed in 2015 with early onset Alzheimer’s, access to treatments that can change the course of the disease in a meaningful way is of critical importance to me. On Jan. 6, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved lecanemab, now known as Leqembi, using the accelerated approval pathway. Based on results from very strong clinical trials, leading Alzheimer’s researchers agree this treatment changes the course of the disease in a meaningful way for people with early Alzheimer’s. But because of the decision the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) has put in place, Medicare will not cover this treatment.

Never before has CMS imposed such drastic barriers to access FDA-approved drugs, especially for people facing a fatal disease. CMS’s policy is unjustified, harmful and unfair. Just as is true for individuals with every other disease today, people like my mother who are living with Alzheimer’s and their doctors should be able to decide if an FDA-approved treatment is right for them and should have it covered by Medicare. All those living with Alzheimer’s deserve better, and we need support from Congress. The Alzheimer’s Association has filed a formal request asking CMS to provide full and unrestricted coverage for Alzheimer’s treatments that have been approved by the FDA.

Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach, please urge CMS to provide full coverage for FDA-approved Alzheimer’s drugs, just as it does for FDA-approved drugs for EVERY other disease. Give the 99,000 Minnesotans living with Alzheimer’s and their families hope for the future.

Beth Magnusson


— Beth Magnusson is a Alzheimer’s Advocacy Ambassador for Minnesota District 7


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