Congress just voted to avert another government shutdown, keeping funding at fiscal year 2017 levels through March 23. While we are disappointed this means a further delay to increasing Alzheimer’s and dementia research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is news worth celebrating in this latest deal.

The continuing resolution included passage of a number of Medicare extenders and the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017. The CHRONIC Care Act is a bipartisan bill aimed at improving health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions.

Importantly, the Act included one of AIM’s priorities — the extension of the Independence at Home (IAH) demonstration model through 2019. The IAH demonstration model provides Medicare beneficiaries with multiple, complex chronic conditions with specialized care at home from a team of healthcare providers. In addition to extending the model, the legislation expands the number of eligible Medicare beneficiaries from 10,000 to 15,000. AIM and the Alzheimer's Association have been strong supporters of this bipartisan bill.

More than 85 percent of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias have one or more other chronic conditions. Alzheimer’s complicates the management of these other conditions — and as a consequence, increases costs. Indeed, for seniors with two chronic conditions, their costs to Medicare are, on average, 56 percent higher if they also have Alzheimer’s.

We know care coordination can improve quality of care and reduce costs. The initial IAH pilot program funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which provided seniors with home-based coordinated care, saved $35 million over two years. In the second year, the average savings per senior participating in the program was over $1,000.

Today’s agreement by Congress to extend the program is an important policy win for those living with Alzheimer’s. AIM will continue advocacy efforts to make this program permanent through the passage of the Independence at Home Act (S. 464). Learn more about the Act here.