The COVID-19 pandemic (also referred to as the 2019 Novel-Coronavirus) has had detrimental effects throughout society- taking our loved ones from us far too soon, inciting an unprecedented economic downtown, shutting down our county’s schools, and more- including effects that are yet to be seen. 

However, it is vital to note the disproportionate effect that this pandemic has on nonprofits and those with Alzheimer’s Disease or related forms of dementia. Unfortunately, previous legislation enacted by Congress - such as the third stimulus package known as the CARES Act - fails to adequately assist charitable organizations and those with dementia. 

That being said, as Congress works to develop the fourth stimulus package, it is vital they include the following three policies in order to address the dire needs of nonprofits and persons with dementia:

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  1. #Relif4Charities: During this crisis, nonprofit organizations are providing tremendous support to the communities they serve, despite facing economic hardships. While previous legislation provided support for smaller non-profits, legislators must expand assistance to larger nonprofits as well. Over the past weeks, coalitions of America’s largest nonprofits (including the Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society, and more) have joined together to call on Congress to establish an exclusive fund to support nonprofits with between 500 to 10,000 employees, including through loan forgiveness. Organizations provide essential services, such as clinician support and 24/7 helpline at the Alzheimer’s Association. Congress must act to ensure that the needs of large nonprofit organizations are met so that they can continue to provide their vital services to the community at large. 

  2. Education Clinicians on Care Planning Services: In 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) allowed clinicians to be reimbursed for providing a comprehensive set of care planning services to cognitively impaired individuals and their caregivers. Care planning for dementia patients and their caregivers is proven to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, reduce emergency room visits, assist with medication management, improve outcomes of those with multiple chronic conditions, and save money in the long term. However, less than 1% of those eligible to receive these services received them in 2017 as health care providers were not educated on the new CMS benefit. Given the current strain on our health care systems, it is vital that Congress does everything possible to alleviate unnecessary hospitalizations and reduce avoidable emergency room visits. The Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act would educate health care providers on the new care planning benefit to expand its usage. Congress must include key provisions of the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act in the fourth stimulus package in order to assist all those with dementia and their caregivers during these turbulent times. 

  3. Elder Justice Protections for those with Dementia: Recently, elder abuse scams have become all too prevalent in our society. This elder abuse can cause irreparable harm on older people physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, and/or financially. Given the increasing population of persons with dementia, law enforcement and emergency personnel will increasingly encounter these vulnerable individuals, and working with them can be fundamentally different from working with other older victims of abuse or exploitation. Yet professionals and staff throughout health care, social services, and criminal justice systems receive little or no training in the unique needs of individuals living with dementia. The Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act would require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop best practices materials to assist professionals in supporting victims of abuse living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Congres must include key provisions of The Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act in the fourth stimulus package to ensure that no matter how difficult the times, the DOJ is able to assist those with dementia who are victims of elder abuse.

Please join me and the Alzheimer’s Association in urging Representative Josh Gottheimer to include relief for large nonprofits as well as key provisions of the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act and The Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act in the fourth COVID-19 stimulus package that congress continues to develop over the coming days and weeks. It is vital that the needs of nonprofit organizations and those with Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia are not forgotten as Congress continues their work.