In the interview, Mr. Johns echoed these explanations. Asked if association officials had communicated with Biogen since Medicare’s proposal, he said, “I think probably some of our folks have had a conversation or more along the way” and that Biogen’s staff “occasionally pass along a piece of information, but I can tell you that we just don’t coordinate with them.”
In the recordings, association officials told advocates that their annual meetings with local members of Congress would involve different “asks” than usual: They should request that lawmakers give a floor speech, write to C.M.S., or post on social media to urge Medicare to broadly cover Aduhelm and any other F.D.A.-approved Alzheimer’s treatment.
One official, Jennifer Pollack, suggested that advocates should give congressional staff a “leave-behind” that included a sample letter, and social media posts drafted by the association and “sample talking points for a floor speech.”
Kate Johnson, another official, told advocates: “If you do not know the answer to a question, that is totally OK.” In that case, “please always revert to our safest phrase,” which, she said, was: “‘I’m not sure, but I can pass that question on to a staffer at the Alzheimer’s Association who can provide some more information.’”
She also urged advocates to take photos or screenshots of the congressional meetings to post on social media, tagging the lawmaker to show “we’re not going to give up on the issues that we’re passionate about.”
Christopher Masak, director of advocacy, role-played being an Alzheimer’s patient’s son meeting with a lawmaker.
“My mom is living with a fatal disease, and the bottom line is, I want more time,” his character said, adding, “Thinking of people like my mom who can’t access this medication, it just, it breaks my heart.”