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Letter to the editor: Decision creates health inequities

Editor: 

The recent draft decision from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) effectively denies access to all current and future FDA-approved treatments targeting amyloid in those living with Alzheimer’s disease. Only the privileged few — those with access to research institutions for clinical trials or those who can afford to pay out of pocket — will receive coverage, further exacerbating and creating health inequities.

As a Program Manager with the Alzheimer’s Association, Northeastern New York Chapter, I have talked to, met with and provided support to local families who are on an incredibly difficult journey with this disease. They’ve heard time and again that there is nothing that can be done to slow down or change the path they’re on.

However, recently, they were given a glimmer of hope by the prospect of disease modifying drugs. While not a cure, these currently approved and emerging therapies could combat and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.

In short, these drugs could provide another path for these families — one that could give them more time with their loved ones. And if you’ve ever loved someone living with this disease, every moment you have where they still recognize you is a blessing.

This decision is disheartening and it feels like disease discrimination. This doesn’t happen for cancer. This doesn’t happen for HIV/AIDS. Treating people living with Alzheimer’s differently than those with other diseases is simply unacceptable. I stand with the Alzheimer’s Association in calling on CMS to change this draft decision.

Lindsay Stanislowsky, Fort Edward

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