Alzheimer's Association Long Island

Mary Ann Malack-Ragona Comments on Centers for Medicare
and Medicaid Services’ Decision for Brain Amyloid Imaging

Mary Ann Malack-Ragona, executive director and chief executive officer of Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center, Inc. (ADRC), says those who are seeking services for their loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease will still have access to those much-needed services, despite a recent ruling on brain amyloid imaging and national reports.

In a recent email sent from Harry Johns of the Alzheimer’s Association, he tells constituents that, as a result of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) decision, “Without coverage of recent scientific innovations like brain amyloid imaging, most of these individuals and families will be unable to access resources they truly need.”

Ms. Malack-Ragona says that Alzheimer’s patients do not have to rely on imaging or other more expensive diagnostic testing to secure resources. “While imaging provides a more positive and often conclusive test result, the truth is, physicians are providing accurate diagnoses that enable us to secure resources and services for our clients,” she says. “We can get a diagnosis of AD with a minimum of a 95% accuracy rate and, since 1993, no one has ever turned away any of our clients when I’ve reached out for assistance because imaging wasn’t used to determine a diagnosis.”

“Since the CMS is willing to cover brain amyloid imaging under the ‘coverage with evidence development’ policy, that gives us what we need to ensure an accurate diagnosis in difficult cases,” Ms. Ragona further states.

She also disputes Mr. Johns’ claims that the CMS’ decision will also affect patients’ access to “appropriate treatments.” “I’m not sure what ‘appropriate treatments’ Mr. Johns is referring to since we’ve failed to produce any new pharmacological interventions that will slow down or cure AD,” she says. “Based on what we are seeing at ADRC, most of the medications being used to address behavioral issues are causing more issues than the disease process. That is why we’re focused on behavioral interventions. The drugs currently on the market are used to treat the symptoms of AD — but, unfortunately, they do not always work and, in some cases, cannot even be tolerated by the person with AD.”


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