New law aims to take on Alzheimer's and cognitive decline

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- A piece of legislation that will create a public health infrastructure across the country to fight Alzheimer's disease has been signed into law.

The Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer's, or BOLD, Act was authored by Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Tim Kaine of Virginia.

"Alzheimer's disease is one of the greatest and most under-recognized public health threats of our time," said Collins, who says there are thousands of people in Maine living with the disease among the millions in the country. "After decades of increasing investments in biomedical research for Alzheimer's, we are ready for the next step: to translate research into practice. The BOLD Act takes a multi-pronged public health approach that will create a modern infrastructure for the prevention, treatment and care of Alzheimer's and related dementias."

"I am thrilled that our bipartisan bill to strengthen our country's response to Alzheimer's was officially signed into law," added Kaine. "Too many families know what it's like to have a loved one with Alzheimer's, and I hope that our efforts will start to provide much-needed relief to those affected."

The BOLD Act unanimously passed the U.S. Senate and passed the U.S. House on a 361-3 vote.

A companion bill in the U.S. House was co-sponsored by more than 250 members of that chamber.

About 5.5 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer's, and the disease costs more than $277 billion each year in the United States.

The number of Americans with the disease is expected to triple by 2050 if there is no further action, and the associated costs would increase to more than $1.1 trillion annually.

The public health approach aims to reduce risk, detect early symptoms, advance care, improve data, and eventually change the trajectory of the disease.

The legislation authorizes $20 million annually over the next five years to promote effective disease and caregiving interventions, educating the public on the disease and other cognitive decline issues, improving care for people living with Alzheimer's, and providing grants to improve the analysis and reporting of data on the disease and cognitive decline as well as health disparities.

The effort will be led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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