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AAGP at the AMA
By Allan A. Anderson, MD, AAGP Past President (2011-2012)
Over the past two years I have represented the AAGP at the annual and interim meetings of the American Medical Association. This is the first time that our organization has had a formal association with the AMA. In the past, AAGP member James Greene, MD, had attended the AMA and had supported a formal relationship. Given the ever-changing practice of medicine and the role the AMA has in this, the AAGP board of directors has supported the AAGP gaining a more formal association. In June of 2013 I represented the AAGP as a member of the AMA Specialty and Service Society. The SSS, or Triple S as it is known, is an organization of physician specialty groups that meets at the AMA meeting. It is comprised of organizations that currently have delegate status at the AMA and others, like AAGP, who do not. In addition to gaining some representation at the AMA by joining the SSS it is expected that organizations apply for formal AMA delegate status within three years of SSS membership. As we are entering our third year of SSS representation we can now apply for delegate status.

There are three benefits from being a member of the House of Delegates of the AMA.
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AAGP call for nominations for board director and officer positions: Applications due July 31
The AAGP Nominations Committee is seeking qualified candidates to run for director and officer positions in the 2014 election. All candidates must have a minimum of three years in the organization to be eligible to run. Officer positions are open to Psychiatrist Members and Retired Members. One non-psychiatrist board director position is also open.

Five positions on the AAGP Board of Directors will be open at the conclusion of AAGP's 2015 Annual Meeting in New Orleans:
  • President-Elect
  • Secretary/Treasurer-Elect
  • 2 At-Large Board positions (psychiatrist member)
  • 1 At-Large Board position (non-psychiatrist member)
Those interested in being considered for either a director or officer position are encouraged to submit a completed application to the Nominations Committee.

For Board of Directors
Term of Service: 3 years (2015-2018)
  • 2 Member (psychiatrist) positions open in 2015
  • 1 Member (non-psychiatrist) position open in 2015
For Officer Positions
Term of Service: A total of 3 years: successive one-year terms as President-Elect, President, and Immediate Past President

Term of Service: A total of 2 years: successive one-year terms as Secretary/Treasurer-Elect and Secretary/Treasurer

To apply for a director or officer position: email the required documents to no later than July 31, 2014. For more information about board and officer responsibilities, desired criteria and application forms, go to

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Congressional talks attempt to reach accord on mental health bills
Bipartisan lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives met on June 24 in order to develop a consensus between mental health bills introduced by Representatives Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania) and Ron Barber (D-Arizona), fueling hope that partisanship will not overtake the debate.

Barber's bill (H.R. 4574), the Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014, funds new investments in prevention and early intervention and addresses gaps in community-based mental health services. The bill, which currently has only 52 Democratic cosponsors, continues critical mental health programs and advances mental health research. Barber called the June meeting a "first step" and said that he is encouraged that lawmakers are looking for common ground. "We have to move really fast in order to get this through, but I think we have a chance," he said.

Murphy’s bill (H.R. 3717), the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, focuses on programs and resources for psychiatric care for patients with a serious mental illness and their families. Murphy said that the provisions of his bill, which touches on Federal privacy law, health information technology and prescription drug coverage under Medicare and Medicaid, would bring about substantive changes in billing. H.R. 3717 currently has 92 bipartisan cosponsors.

No official agreement has yet been reached, and lawmakers would still need to craft revised legislative language before sending a compromise bill to the House floor for consideration.

Newtown, Connecticut receives grant for mental health counseling
Newtown, Connecticut, is receiving a $7.1 million Federal grant to provide new mental health services, including long-term counseling, to families, law enforcement, first responders and others affected by the December 2012 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Members of Connecticut's Congressional Delegation announced the grant on June 26 from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime. This funding is in addition to the $1.5 million grant from the same office that Newtown received in 2013. The Newtown Public Schools District also received $3.2 million through a U.S. Department of Education program.

Mental health experts: Brain project critical in addressing mental health care in the U.S.
In a June 28 column in USA Today, former Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island), a chief sponsor of the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act, and Husseini Manji, the former chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology and director of the Mood & Anxiety Disorders Program at the National Institute of Mental Health, express strong support for President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative. They assert that the project, aimed at mapping the circuitry of the brain, would “not only help us to better understand complex human behavior, but could spark profound new advancements in treating brain disorders”.

They outline three steps that they contend would immediately address the costs, both financial and social, of mental health in the United States:
  • Increase the Federal budget for research while fully funding the BRAIN initiative. Despite the increasing need for such research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget is actually $1.2 billion less than it was for four years ago. Adjusted for inflation, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) receives the same level of funding as it did 15 years ago. The Federal Government needs to build on recent neuroscientific advances.
  • Second, enforce the law and improve the system. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was a big step toward guaranteeing equality of treatment and care in mental health. However, the law has not yet been fully implemented, and discrimination is still widespread.
  • Third, increase cooperation. Pharmaceutical companies, private and public foundations, and the Federal Government should work together to advance scientific research into mental illness.

Nominations for APA Geriatric Psychiatry Awards are due Aug. 15
The American Psychiatric Association's Hartford-Jeste Award for Future Leaders in Geriatric Psychiatry recognizes an early career geriatric psychiatrist who has made noteworthy contributions to the field of geriatric psychiatry through excellence in research, teaching, clinical practice, and community service, and has demonstrated the potential to develop into a future leader in the field. The honoree must be a psychiatrist who holds a position no higher than assistant professor and is no more than seven years removed from completion of a geriatric psychiatry fellowship. Submission Requirements: Nominations for this award must come from APA Members. All applications should include a detailed nomination letter highlighting the nominee's contributions to geriatric psychiatry, and two additional letters of support highlighting more specific facets of the nominee's career and contributions. At least one letter should be from a geriatric psychiatrist familiar with the nominee's work, and two of the letters should come from people outside of the nominee's institution. Applications should also include a copy of the nominee's CV that includes a list of publications as well as grant support. This award is made possible with funds from the John A. Hartford Foundation, a private philanthropy working to improve the health of older Americans.

APA's Jack Weinberg Memorial Award for Geriatric Psychiatry was established in 1983 in memory of Jack Weinberg, MD, to honor a psychiatrist who, over the course of his/her career, has demonstrated special leadership or who has done outstanding work in clinical practice, training, or research into geriatric psychiatry. Candidates for the award must be psychiatrists who are nominated by an APA member. Submission Requirements: A nomination letter summarizing the accomplishments of the nominee, two letters of endorsement from APA members, a current CV and bibliography.

Deadline for both awards: August 15, 2014. Send nominations to Sejal Patel at, American Psychiatric Association 1000, Wilson Blvd. #1825, Arlington, VA 22209; 703-907-8579; 703-907-7852 (fax).

New U.S. Census Bureau report focuses on older adults
While rates of smoking and excessive drinking have declined among older Americans, prevalence of chronic disease has risen, and many older Americans are unprepared to afford the costs of long-term care in a nursing home, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau commissioned by the National Institutes of Health. The report highlights trends among America's older population, now over 40 million and expected to more than double by mid-century, growing to 83.7 million people and one-fifth of the U.S. population by 2050. Population trends and other national data about people 65 and older are presented in the report, 65+ in the United States: 2010. Some highlights:
  • The share of the older population residing in skilled nursing facilities declined from 4.5 percent in 2000 to 3.1 percent in 2010. The share in other long-term care facilities, such as assisted living, has been growing.
  • Medicaid funds for long-term care have been shifting away from nursing homes with funding for home- and community-based services increasing from 13 percent of total funding in 1990 to 43 percent in 2007.
  • Changing marital trends, such as the rise of divorces, as well as the increase in living alone among the 65-and-over population, will likely alter the social support needs of aging baby boomers.
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Inexpensive Alzheimer's tests offer promise
USA Today
To confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer's today, a patient either needs a painful spinal tap or a costly brain image. But several detection tools under development offer the promise of at least ruling out Alzheimer's easily and inexpensively in a doctor's office.

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Study: An intellectual life could protect against dementia
The Atlantic
As America ages, the specter of cognitive decline looms. In a 2012 AARP membership survey, 87 percent of respondents said they were extremely or very concerned about "staying mentally sharp." As there's currently no cure for Alzheimer's or dementia, their concern is not unwarranted. There is a prevailing idea, though, that staying mentally active could help keep the disease at bay.

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Could a cocoa extract prevent Alzheimer's?
Medical News Today
More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease and by 2050, this number is expected to increase to 16 million. With figures like these, the race is on to find ways to prevent Alzheimer's. Now, a new study by researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York finds that a cocoa extract could do just that.

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Sleep disorders may raise risk of Alzheimer's, new research shows
The Washington Post
Sleep disturbances such as apnea may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, while moderate exercise in middle age and mentally stimulating games, such as crossword puzzles, may prevent the onset of the dementia-causing disease, according to new research. The findings bolster previous studies that suggest sleep plays a critical role in the aging brain's health, perhaps by allowing the body to cleanse itself of Alzheimer's-related compounds during down time.
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Cataract surgery for people with dementia slows cognition decline, improves quality of life
Cataract surgery for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias not only improves vision but can slow decline in cognition and improve quality of life for both people with the disease and their caregivers, according to clinical trial results reported at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.
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Inexpensive Alzheimer's tests offer promise
USA Today
To confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer's today, a patient either needs a painful spinal tap or a costly brain image. But several detection tools under development offer the promise of at least ruling out Alzheimer's easily and inexpensively in a doctor's office. In new research to be presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Denmark, scientists show progress developing detection methods that rely on the blood, sense of smell and protein build-up in the eyes. All have been tested in dozens to hundreds of patients.
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Diabetes drug shows slight effect on dementia in German study
Older Germans who took Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. (4502)'s diabetes medicine Actos were slightly less likely to develop dementia, according to a study that may do little to resolve questions about the drug's usefulness. The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases followed 145,717 people of age 60 or older who were members of the country's biggest public insurer from 2004 to 2010, tracking whether they developed dementia and also whether they took Actos, once the world's best-selling diabetes medicine. Those on the drug were 6 percent less likely to develop dementia, according to results presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Copenhagen.
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