Americans with brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis (MS) who need to see a neurologist may face longer wait times or have more difficulty finding a neurologist, according to a new study published in the April 17, 2013, online issue of Neurology-, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The findings are being released as nearly 150 neurologists will descend on Capitol Hill next Tuesday, April 23, 2013, to encourage Congress to protect patients’ access to neurologists and ensure there will be care for the one in six Americans currently affected by brain disease.
“We want Congress to act now to help alleviate this shortage at a time when baby boomers are aging and the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple by 2050,” said Timothy A. Pedley, MD, FAAN, President of the American Academy of Neurology, the world’s largest association of neurologists. “Neurologists are the physicians best suited to care for the one in six people currently affected by neurological disease. It is therefore vital that they have access to neurologists who are specially trained in treating brain diseases.”
Cognitive care, or face-to-face time with neurologists, is undervalued by the current Medicare payment system and neurologists participating in next Tuesday’s Neurology on the Hill will be asking for fair reimbursement for face-to-face care of neurology patients. Without fair and stable reimbursement, medical students and residents who have substantial education debt often are forced to seek more financially rewarding specialties than neurology.