AAGP eNews
Sep. 24, 2013

AAGP president's column:
Why you should care about research at the AAGP
Annual Meeting

By David C. Steffens, MD, MHS, AAGP President
I was pondering what I should focus on for the president's column, and then I received an email reminder about upcoming deadlines for poster submissions for the AAGP Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, March 14–17. Specifically, I noted that New Research Posters are due Oct. 1, and Early Investigator Posters are due Oct. 15. I was inspired at the thought of the terrific amount of research presented at our meeting and decided to spotlight these efforts in today’s column.

In my professional career, I have been fortunate to have had clinical, administrative and educational roles, but my primary identification has been as a researcher. There is no doubt in my mind that AAGP played a pivotal role in my research career. Our Annual Meeting provides a unique venue to network, to present research ideas, and to serve on important committees and in leadership positions, all essential activities for an academic researcher.

In terms of networking, the AAGP Annual Meeting is the place to meet and have meaningful conversations with leaders in our field who are active in cutting-edge research that moves our field forward. What is particularly special about AAGP is that these luminaries of geriatric mental health research make themselves available not only to fellow researchers but to all attendees—clinicians, educators, trainees and students. But for an up-and-coming junior researcher, the ability to interact with and "learn the ropes" academically is key to shaping one's development. It is also important that the network of AAGP attendees includes members from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, from industry, and from important foundations that fund research.More

Less than 1 week!
In less than one week, we will have reached the deadline for contributing to the Scholars Fund, which supports the Scholars Program, a successful tool for recruiting trainees to the field of geriatric psychiatry. Please join your fellow AAGP members is supporting this valuable program. Contribute by Sept. 30 to benefit the 2014 program. Learn more and donate at www.AAGPonline.org/scholars. In one week, applications from trainees for the Scholars Program are due. Learn more and apply by Oct. 1 at www.AAGPonline.org/scholars. More

End of the "doc fix" era?
Now that Congress has returned from its five-week summer recess, it is anticipated that, prior to the end of this year, it will act on a bill that would block cuts to Medicare's physicians payments on Jan. 1. The question is whether lawmakers will pass a temporary fix, as they have for the past ten years, or whether they will finally make this the year they agree on a comprehensive solution.

House Energy and Commerce Committee members have made more long-term progress on a long-term growth rate measure than Congress has seen in years, although the bill's sponsors acknowledge that the legislation is far from finished. The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee also plan to introduce their own bills this fall. Congress seems closer than ever to instituting a new Medicare payment system, but several obstacles stand in the way of getting a bill to the president's desk by the end of the year. If that fails, Congress will be pressed to come up with another short-term solution or physicians will see their payment rates reduced by approximately 25 percent on Jan. 1.

The Energy and Commerce bill, the only official measure so far, would repeal the sustainable growth rate formula and replace it with an enhanced fee-for-service system, while also allowing providers to opt out and participate in alternative payment models. The bill, approved unanimously by the committee in July, would first institute a five-year period of stable payments, to allow certainty while physicians adjust for the new payment models. After that, physicians would participate in either an enhanced fee-for-service system or in approved alternative payment systems.More

GAO issues report on health care workforce

At the request of Congress, the General Accounting Office released on Aug. 15, a report focused on federal training programs that promote the health care workforce. The theory behind the report is that a well-trained and diverse health care workforce is essential for providing Americans with access to quality health care services. The report reviewed all 91 currently funded programs that provide any instruction, training, financial assistance or patient care related continuing education to members of the broadly defined health care workforce. The report did not make any recommendations, but rather cataloged the current programs, their targeted health professional, and the federal cost for each program. The listed programs include the grants for Geriatric Education Centers, and Geriatric Academic Career Awards, in addition to the programs supporting psychology and advance practice registered nurse education. For a copy of the full report, go to: www.gao.gov/assets/660/656960.pdf. In the past 18 months, AAGP leadership has met with the leadership at HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration), who administers this program, to discuss the need to further expand their capacity to geriatric psychiatry programs.More

The Commission on Long-Term Care makes final recommendations

The Commission on Long-Term Care voted (9-6) on Sept. 12 in favor of releasing the Final Report as the final recommendations of the Commission. The full report was released on Sept. 18 (www.ltccommission.senate.gov). There are multiple recommendations including some changes to the Medicare system such as eliminating the three-day hospital stay requirement for SNF coverage and revising the definition of homebound for Medicare beneficiaries to receive home health care services. In addition, they call for the White House to convene a White House Conference on Aging in 2015. Six members of the commission did not agree to the final report and five of them have published alternative recommendations including: creating a public social insurance program to help older adults with the expense of long-term care services; financial incentives to states for quality home- and community-based services; and tax preferred savings accounts for families so that families have new ways to access and pay for long-term care services. The basic disagreement between the members of the commission is the need to build a long-term social insurance program to assist families to access long-term care, including those with moderate income.More

African-American Network Against Alzheimer's

The African American Network Against Alzheimer’s — a network of USAgainstAlzheimer's — launched on Sept. 19 during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference in Washington. Honorary co-chairs of this endeavor included the Reverend Al Sharpton, Dr. David Satcher, the Honorable Kay James, and Ms. Melody Barnes. For more information, visit www.usagainstalzheimers.org/networks/african-americans.More

New HIPAA requirements this month: AMA offers resources

The AMA has a new toolkit available at www.ama-assn.org/go/hipaa to help physicians navigate the sweeping new revisions to the federal privacy and security rules for health information that were scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 23. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule last January that revises and extends required safeguards for protected health information established under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. More

Awards to be presented in Orlando in March: Nominations due Nov. 1
AAGP offers several awards to recognize excellence in the field of late-life mental health care, which will be presented at the Opening Plenary Session on March 14, 2014, in conjunction with the AAGP Annual Meeting, March 14-17, 2014, in Orlando, Florida.More

The dementia rate may be falling — and what it means
Two major new studies have turned the popular perception of dementia on its head. For years, we’ve heard that Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are on the rise — a prediction that strikes fear in the hearts of both the public and policymakers.More

Alzheimer's extracts a high price on caregivers, too
NBC News
The burdens of caregiving are so great they can shave years off the life of caregivers, experts say. In fact, one study showed that compared to others, caregiver spouses aged 66 to 96 had a 63 percent higher mortality rate.More

Becoming a National Health Service Corps approved site

The application cycle to become a National Health Service Corps approved site is now open. Clinics and practices that focus on providing primary care for older adults are eligible and encouraged to apply. By becoming a NHSC-approved site, primary health care professionals working at your site would be eligible to apply to the Loan Repayment Program, which is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration's Bureau of Clinician Recruitment and Service, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To find out more about eligibility requirements and application details, visit the NHSC website at http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/sites/becomenhscapprovedsite/index.html and review Eldercare Workforce Alliance guidance. Applications are being accepted through Nov. 1.More

Awards to be presented in Orlando in March: Nominations due Nov. 1
AAGP offers several awards to recognize excellence in the field of late-life mental health care, which will be presented at the Opening Plenary Session on March 14, 2014, in conjunction with the AAGP Annual Meeting, March 14-17, 2014, in Orlando, Florida. Do you know someone deserving of that recognition? Is it you? Nominations/applications for the following awards are due Nov. 1.

For detailed information on AAGP's 2014 awards, including eligibility and the nomination/application process, visit www.AAGPonline.org/awards.More

Alzheimer's research gets $45 million funding boost
USA Today
Alzheimer's research is getting a boost with about $45 million in new funding. The National Institutes of Health announced grants for research to find therapies for Alzheimer's, a progressive brain disease that is the sixth leading cause of death in the USA, according to the Alzheimer's Association.More

Antipsychotic medications overprescribed for everything, from hyper children to nursing home residents
Medical Daily
The overuse of antipsychotic medications has gained the attention of America's doctors, as medical groups add the drug class to a host of overused medical interventions including antibiotics and colonoscopies, among others. The American Psychiatric Association recently launched an avalanche of public campaigning against the overuse of antipsychotics for treating everything from dementia to insomnia to pediatric behavioral problems, joined thus far by more than 50 medical groups.More

Self-care for the caregiver
By Karen Childress
Do you follow you own good advice? Healthcare professionals are notorious for putting the well-being of others ahead of their own. If you’ve fallen into poor habits related to self-care, consider engaging in one or two of the following practices — all of which require only modest change using a 30-day trial approach — and then adding others when the time feels right.More

Plant science could aid Alzheimer's research
Medical Xpress
A finding by an international team of plant biologists could be important in research into Alzheimer's and other age-related diseases.The study is published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and presents new data on the degradation of short peptides (chains of amino acid molecules) in cells.More

Husband painstakingly recreates former house to prevent his wife with dementia becoming confused after they move
Daily Mail
When Mr. Muircroft, 75, was told that any big changes in surroundings can cause anxiety in dementia sufferers he set about making the interior of their new flat in Scotland an exact replica of their old one. From colour scheme to skirting, fireplace to fittings, the decor of the flat has been painstaking replicated from their former home, also a flat. He also placed ornaments and family photographs in the exact same position as they were in the couple's previous home.More