Legislation geared to help preserve brain health and combat Alzheimer’s disease was signed into law last night.

The Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act will create public health infrastructure across the country for brain health. 

The BOLD Act was authored by U.S. Senators  Tim Kaine (D-VA)Susan Collins (R-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

It passed through the Senate unanimously and through the House 361-3. 

“I am thrilled that our bipartisan bill to strengthen our country’s response to Alzheimer’s was officially signed into law,” Senator Kaine said.  “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.” 

Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives, which was cosponsored by 254 members. 

Approximately 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and the disease costs the United States more than $277 billion per year, including $186 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Without further action, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple to as many as 14 million by 2050, costing the nation more than $1.1 trillion per year.  

This legislation applies a public health approach to reduce risk, detect early symptoms, advance care, improve data, and ultimately change the trajectory of this devastating disease. Headed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it authorizes $20 million annually over the next five years to establish: 

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Public Health Centers of Excellence dedicated to promoting effective Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving interventions as well as educating the public on Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, and brain health.  The centers will implement the CDC’s Healthy Aging Public Health Road Map, and will take key steps to support health and social services professionals as well as families and communities. 

  2. Cooperative Agreements with the CDC that will be awarded to State Health Departments to help them meet local needs in promoting brain health, reducing risk of cognitive decline, improving care for those with Alzheimer’s, and other key public health activities.  

  3. Data Grants to improve the analysis and timely reporting of data on Alzheimer’s, cognitive decline, caregiving, and health disparities at the state and national levels. 

The BOLD Act was introduced last year and was cosponsored by a total of 58 Senators and supported by several organizations, including the Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s Impact Movement; and Maria Shriver, founder of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.