Wednesday, February 08, 2012

NIH asks for more funding for Alzheimer's, but may reclassify some patients with "mild impairment" in such a way as to affect benefits

The recent expansion of the definition of MCI, or “Mild Cognitive Impairment”, complicates the picture of estimating the public health problems likely to follow with a rapidly aging population. The definition has been expanded to include other activities of daily living as well as memory, but some of these could other kinds of disabilities.  

CBS News ran the story from WebMD here

The National Institute of Aging  proposed new criteria, which would classify as MCI symptoms of many people who still function independently, and which critics say might cut them off from care that could prevent progression to Alzheimer’s, including various new drugs.

Some people say that up to 90% of diagnoses could be downgraded.  Forbes has an article by Bernard Krooks Feb. 8, 2012 here

Time, in a story by Alice Clark, says that about 99% of those diagnosed with mild dementia would be classified with MCI and could lose critical services, including support for anti-dementia drugs, link here

It would seem that the MCI definition could complicate the CDC projections of the explosion of the Alzheimer's epidemic and the effect it will have on families and on public budget deficits. 

My own mother took both Aricept and Namenda during her last twelve months for what would now be considered MCI, but her MRI’s showed some plaques.  They were expensive, covered by Medicare but fell into the doughnut hole – but there were also some physician samples. 

I could not find the criteria on NIA’s website. Instead I found a statement of the intention of the Obama administration to increase funding for research and treatment (“we can’t wait”), link here.

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