Ivey signs bill to properly fund Alzheimer’s education

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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The Alabama Legislature passed bills during the 2019 Regular Session that move Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia under the Alabama Department of Public Health, and Governor Kay Ivey signed this legislation into law.  Today, Governor Ivey held a formal bill signing of House Bill 549 in the Old House Chamber of the State Capitol. The new law takes effect on October 1, 2019.

When Congress declared Alzheimer’s Disease a public health crisis and passed the Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure Act (the BOLD Act) in December 2018, it created an Alzheimer’s public health infrastructure across the country. Through the BOLD Act, Congress is implementing effective Alzheimer’s Disease interventions focused on public health and is providing critical funding to state, local and tribal public health departments. These federal funds are tied to public health.

HB549, sponsored by Representatives Hall, Kitchens, Brown (K), Collins, Estes, Moore (P), Coleman and Morris, and SB330, sponsored by Senator Albritton, repealed the 1993 Alabama Mental Health code sections and assigned authority to the Alabama Department of Public Health. This legislation was needed so that Alabama is eligible to receive federal dollars under the BOLD Act and so that UAB is eligible to be designated a Center of Excellence in Alzheimer’s and dementia research and care by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC).

Representative Laura Hall (D-Huntsville), who was the lead sponsor of this legislation in the House, said:  “This legislation was needed for many reasons.  One, Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are diseases of the brain, just as congestive heart failure is a disease of the heart.  The Department of Public Health is the agency that should have jurisdiction over them.  Two, bypassing this legislation and the Governor’s signing House Bill 549 into law, Alabama is in a stronger position to receive federal funding as a result of actions Congress has taken in recent years after it declared Alzheimer’s Disease to be a public health crisis.”

Senator Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), who was the Senate sponsor and who handled the House bill in the Senate, said, “By moving Alzheimer’s Disease and dementias under the Alabama Department of Public Health, we are helping Alabama provide for efficient and effective services for those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia, which will also benefit all who care for them and all who love them.”

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, who is in charge of the Alabama Department of Public Health, said:  “Alzheimer’s Disease and dementias are health crises both at a national and state level.  With a continually aging population in Alabama, they are also growing health crises. The Alabama Department of Public Health appreciates the Legislature making this positive change to ensure we as a state are doing all we can to provide for our citizens with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementias.  The Public Health Department also looks forward to continuing to work with the Legislature and Governor to ensure that the best care and support are available in Alabama.”

The Alabama Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, which worked with State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and others at the Alabama Department of Public Health and with the Alabama Department of Mental Health in drafting these bills, requested this legislation. Both the House and Senate bills, which were identical as amended, passed both bodies of the Legislature without a single dissenting vote, and Governor Ivey signed HB549 into law.  Today, in an official ceremony in the Old House Chamber at the Alabama Capitol, the Governor formally signed the legislation into law.

Please call or text the number below if you need more information about the services that the Alzheimer’s Association provides. The Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline number is 800-272-3900 and TDD is 866-403-3073.