Elderly woman at occupational therapy appointment
(Credit: Fly View Productons / Getty Images)

Bipartisan bills recently introduced in the US Senate and House of Representatives, if passed as written and signed into law, would fund public health initiatives related to Alzheimer’s disease to the tune of $33 million each year over the next five years.

US Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Reauthorization Act of 2024 on Thursday. US Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced a companion bill in the House earlier in the week. The bills would reauthorize the original 2018 act.

“Reauthorization of the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act will ensure communities across the country have access to resources to promote effective Alzheimer’s interventions and better cognitive health that can lead to improved health outcomes,” Collins, founder and Senate co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, said in a statement.

The US spends more than $345 billion annually on Alzheimer’s, which affects 6.7 million Americans, according to the bill’s sponsors. Barring any major breakthroughs to prevent, slow or cure the disease, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to double by 2050, costing the nation more than $1.1 trillion annually.

Since the act first was adopted in 2018, annual funding for the BOLD Act has grown from $10 million in fiscal year 2020 to $33 million in fiscal year 2023. 

The bill’s co-sponsors said that the BOLD Act accelerated a multi-pronged public health approach to reduce risk, advance care, improve data, promote early detection and ultimately change the trajectory of the disease. 

The funds authorized by BOLD Act would support Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Centers of Excellence on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The three centers support the CDC’s Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map in the areas of risk reduction, early detection and caregiving. 

The CDC has made 66 awards to 45 state, local and tribal health departments over the life of the BOLD Act. Last year, the agency announced 43 BOLD award recipients, the most in a single year. 

Funding also would support the public health cooperative agreements awarded to state health departments to meet local needs in promoting brain health, reducing risk and improving care. Data project grants would improve analysis and reporting on Alzheimer’s, cognitive decline, caregiving and health disparities at the state and national levels.

“Over the past five years, the BOLD Act has begun its work to create an Alzheimer’s disease public health infrastructure across the country,” Capito said. “By empowering our federal and state public health agencies to play an expanded role in areas such as increasing early detection and supporting dementia caregiving, this legislation is having a direct impact on millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.”

Robert Egge, Alzheimer’s Association chief public policy officer and president of the association’s advocacy arm, Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, said that the BOLD Act is helping public health professionals improve brain health and make an impact on communities.

“Since Congress passed the BOLD Act, public health departments across the country have been making a real-world impact by successfully implementing effective Alzheimer’s interventions, such as increasing early detection and diagnosis and reducing risk,” Egge said in a statement.

The Alzheimer’s Association, along with the New York University School of Medicine and the University of Minnesota, has received funding from the BOLD Act.