Banner: Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.
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For Immediate Release
January 26, 2004
Media Contact: 410-576-6357

Report makes suggestions for public policy, legislation

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. today published a major study of the legal and policy issues related to Alzheimer's disease. The 115-page report is believed to be the first of its kind by an Attorney General's office.

"More than 85,000 Marylanders now have this terrible disease, and tens of thousands more will develop it in the coming years," Curran said. "This report reflects our effort to understand and address the policy implications of this major public health problem."

"Policy Study on Alzheimer's Disease Care" covers health care decision making, including advance care planning, guardianship, and participation in medical research; financial planning; Medicaid issues; regulation of nursing homes and assisted living facilities; patient abuse and financial exploitation; long-term care insurance; and driver's licensing.

In the report, Curran identified several goals of public policy relating to Alzheimer's disease: to further the right of individuals to plan for health care and other decisions in accordance with their personal values; to safeguard individuals against abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation; to promote systematic improvement in care, especially in state-regulated facilities; to support both family and professional care givers as they respond to the changing needs of people with AD; to balance support for research with protection of vulnerable research participants; and to promote mobility while protecting public safety.

The report contains two dozen recommendations. Among these are three suggestions for legislative action: to clarify how the Health Care Decisions Act applies to medical research, to put a warning notice on preprinted durable power of attorney forms, and to prohibit genetic discrimination in long-term care insurance. Other recommendations are addressed to State regulatory agencies, the State Advisory Council on Quality Care at the End of Life, and health care providers.

"The report is intended to identify, and promote public discussion about, the legal and policy environment in which Alzheimer's disease care is delivered," Curran said. "State law can have a dramatic effect, for example, on whether a person with AD can get needed services in the community instead of in a nursing home, a person with mild AD can continue to drive, or someone whose genes put the person at a higher risk of future AD can buy long-term care insurance."

The study was three years in the making. Curran's staff reviewed pertinent literature, interviewed experts and met with people directly affected by the disease. Drafts of the report were open to public comment.

The report is available on the Attorney General's web site at: Single printed copies are also available from the Attorney General's Health Policy Division at (410) 576-6327.



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