Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington (December 9, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, and Senators Shelley Capito (R-W.V.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) led their colleagues in a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure requesting the officials reconsider a 2013 national coverage determination (NCD) that for nearly a decade has limited Medicare coverage of certain brain imaging procedures critical for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the NCD restricts brain imaging for Medicare recipients to a single scan during a person’s lifetime, contingent on a patient’s enrollment in a clinical trial. New evidence suggests that ‘amyloid PET’ imaging of the brain is effective in detecting Alzheimer’s disease, although scans cost thousands of dollars out of pocket.

“Since CMS issued the NCD, there has been significant progress in Alzheimer’s and related dementias research,” the Senators wrote. “In light of new research showing the effectiveness of this imaging technology, we support reconsideration of the NCD and urge CMS to update it to improve access to this evidence-based diagnostic tool.”

“Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are difficult to manage without facing financial and clinical trial barriers,” they continued. “We must make every effort to grant equitable access to tools that can help individuals and their loved ones treat and manage this disease. We ask that CMS update its NCD to improve equitable access to amyloid PET imaging for people managing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”

Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Susan Collins (R-M.E.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C) also signed the letter.

As an author of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), Senator Markey is a leader in the fight to find a cure to Alzheimer’s disease. In May, Senator Markey and his colleagues introduced two landmark pieces of legislation to bolster research to find a cure to Alzheimer’s: the NAPA Reauthorization Act, which would reauthorize NAPA through 2035, and the Alzheimer’s Accountability and Investment Act, which would extend a requirement for NIH to submit an annual budget to Congress estimating the funding necessary to fully implement NAPA’s research goals through 2035. As a Congressman, Markey created the Independence at Home program that provides seniors, including individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementia, the option to receive primary care services at home. As a member of the House, Senator Markey also introduced the bipartisan Spending Reductions Through Innovations in Therapies (SPRINTAct, which would spur innovation in research and drug development for high-cost, chronic health conditions such as Alzheimer’s.