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AAGP applauds reintroduction of Positive Aging Act
AAGP
On June 7, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., reintroduced the Positive Aging Act, S. 1119, which will improve the accessibility and quality of mental health services for the country's rapidly growing older population. The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, which has long promoted better access to mental health care for older adults, strongly supports the goals of the bill and the senators' efforts to advance late-life mental health.

"If enacted, this legislation would help older Americans receive vital mental health services," said AAGP President David C. Steffens, MD, MHS. "The bill would provide mental health screenings, appropriate referrals for follow-up care and consultations, and the use of available evidence-based protocols for common mental disorders." AAGP has continued to work closely with members of the Senate and the House Representatives and their staffs since the inception of this legislation and has also worked closely with other organizations interested in mental health and aging in advocating its passage.
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Scholars Program: Now accepting applications
AAGP
AAGP is now accepting applications for its popular Scholars Program, designed to provide access to the field of geriatric psychiatry to medical students and psychiatry residents. The program provides beneficiaries with full access to all AAGP member programs and activities through association membership; and activities during the AAGP Annual Meeting, including structured mentorship programs and tools for medical students and residents to make informed choices about their medical careers.

Medical students in an LCME- or COCA-accredited medical school and general psychiatry residents in PGY 1-4 in an ACGME- or AOA-accredited training program in the U.S. or a Canadian accredited residency program may apply for general scholarships. Psychiatry residents in PGY-1, 2, or 3 may apply for the honors scholarships. Learn more and apply online.

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Help support the Scholars Program and bring more trainees into geriatric psychiatry
AAGP
The Scholars Fund is a successful marketing tool for geriatric psychiatry, allowing the introduction of dozens of trainees to the rewards and challenges of the field each year. Help support this program by donating to the Scholars Fund. A participant of the Scholars Program at the AAGP 2013 Annual Meeting, a medical student who was more interested in geriatrics than psychiatry prior to the conference, wrote: "When I attended the poster session, the keynote speeches, and interacted with the faculty mentors, I really began to appreciate the community in geriatric psychiatry, and the idea of caring for someone's grandmother or grandfather as [if] they were my own. The experience was invaluable."

Donations received by Sept. 30 will be used for the 2014 program. To give, please click here.

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    AAGP commends White House on attention to mental health and urges focus for all age groups
    AAGP
    On June 3, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden hosted a National Conference on Mental Health at the White House as part of an effort to launch a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness about mental health. The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry applauds the Administration's focus on mental health care and encourages policymakers to expand the focus on quality mental health care across the lifespan, including care for older adults.

    Mental illness among the aging population is a serious public health issue as evidenced by the suicide rates of older adults, which are still among the highest for any age group: Suicide rates for males are highest among those aged 75 and older, and for females, highest for those aged 45-54, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Depression in elderly people often goes untreated because of the misconception that depression is a normal part of aging and a natural reaction to chronic illness, and because the symptoms of depression in older adults can differ from those of adolescents or middle-aged adults. In addition, currently, more than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease — a mental health crisis for those patients, their caregivers, and family members.

    Mental illness carries a stigma for all age groups, and many senior citizens will not seek medical help. With many older adults living alone, it is challenging to identify those who are in need of assistance; furthermore health care providers are often not trained to diagnose and treat mental illness in the geriatric population. As the national dialogue continues on this critical issue, AAGP urges policymakers to work to eliminate the gaps in services to the elderly with mental illness by increasing access to quality mental health care and addressing the prevalent stigma associated with these diseases.

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    Member News: New appointment for Colenda
    AAGP
    The West Virginia United Health System board of directors selected Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH, as its next president and CEO, effective in January 2014. Colenda, an AAGP past president, currently is the chancellor for Health Sciences at West Virginia University, having been appointed in November 2009. Previously, he served as the Jean and Thomas McMullin dean of the College of Medicine of Texas A&M Health Science Center and vice president for Clinical Affairs.
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    ABPN faculty fellowship award
    The directors of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology have established a faculty fellowship award intended to support the development of innovative education and/or evaluation projects that promote effective residency/fellowship training or lifelong learning of practicing psychiatrists and neurologists. Preference will be given to projects that have the potential for use in more than one site and to applicants who are at a junior or mid-faculty level.

    Each year, up to two psychiatry and two neurology faculty fellows will be selected. The duration of the fellowship will normally be for two years with a maximum amount of funding of $50,000 per year or $100,000 total. This amount is intended to cover salary, fringe benefits, and other costs. No indirect costs will be covered. Fellows will be required to dedicate at least 25 percent of their professional time to the project.

    Applicants must be certified by the ABPN; participate in the ABPN's maintenance of certification program; hold an unrestricted license to practice medicine in a state, commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States; comply with the ABPN's conflict of interest policies and procedures; and hold a faculty appointment in a U.S. LCME-accredited medical school.

    Applicants must submit a completed Application Form and any related documentation by Aug. 19 to the ABPN. Awards will be announced by Oct. 31 with funding to start on Jan. 1, 2014. Additional information and the application form are online at www.abpn.com.

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    Physician pay fix timeline
    On June 12, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced that he expects to move a bill through the Committee by August that would permanently replace Medicare's reimbursement formula for physicians. Upton said that he hopes to have a permanent "doc fix" bill ready by early July so it can go to the House floor for consideration by the congressional August recess, which begins on Aug. 5.

    Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said that he and Upton are on the same page with reforming the Medicare physician payment system, but, as yet, they have not tackled the most controversial part of the effort — finding a way to pay for it. Lawmakers have looked more seriously at a permanent solution this year because of a dramatic reduction in the Congressional Budget Office's cost estimates.

    AAGP is continuing to work with Congress and other medical organizations to reform the Medicare payment system on a permanent basis. There needs to be a permanent solution to the problem in order to preserve Medicare beneficiaries' access to care and to provide for fair reimbursement for all practitioners under the Medicare system.

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    Medicare trustees report shows longer Medicare solvency
    On May 31, the Medicare Trustees projected that the Trust Fund that finances Medicare's hospital insurance coverage will remain solvent until 2026, two years beyond what was projected in the 2012 report.

    A number of factors contributed to the improved outlook, including lower-than-expected Part A spending in 2012, and lower projected Medicare Advantage program costs. According to the report, Medicare spending per beneficiary has grown quite slowly over the past few years and is projected to continue growing slowly over the next several years. From 2010 to 2012, Medicare spending per beneficiary grew at 1.7 percent annually, more slowly than the average rate of growth in the Consumer Price Index, and substantially more slowly than the per capita rate of growth in the economy. As a result of the cost controls implemented in the Affordable Care Act, spending is projected to continue to grow slower than the overall economy for the next several years.

    Although the Medicare Part B premium for 2014 will not be determined until later this year, the preliminary estimate in the Report indicates that it will remain unchanged from the 2013 premium.

    In 2012, Medicare covered 50.7 million people: 42.1 million people aged 65 and older, and 8.5 million people with disabilities. Approximately 27 percent of the beneficiaries have chosen to enroll in Part C private health plans that contract with Medicare to deliver Part A and Part B health services. Total expenditures in 2012 were $574.2 billion. Total income was $536.9 billion. The report is available at www.cms.gov.

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    Article on boomer suicide featured in The Washington Post
    The Washington Post
    Statistics released in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a dramatic spike in suicides among middle-aged people, reports The Washington Post.

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    2 new AD reports
    AAGP
    Two separate reports were released recently by the Alzheimer's Association and the RAND Corporation on the prevalence and cost of Alzheimer's disease.

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    Scholar's Program: The time to give is now
    By David C. Steffens, MD, MHS, AAGP President
    Did you know that our AAGP family is in possession of a remarkable heirloom? And what is truly amazing is that when we bestow this heirloom on worthy recipients, several magical things happen.

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    Article on boomer suicide featured in The Washington Post
    The Washington Post
    Statistics released in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a dramatic spike in suicides among middle-aged people, reports The Washington Post. In a June 3 article, "Baby boomers are killing themselves at an alarming rate, raising question: Why?" the paper reports the highest increases are among men in their 50s, whose rate went up by nearly 50 percent to 30 per 100,000; and women in their early 60s, whose rate rose by nearly 60 percent (though it is still relatively low compared with men, at 7 in 100,000). See the article here.
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    IOM report: 'Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence'
    Institute of Medicine
    This month, the Institute of Medicine released a new report titled "Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence." In January 2013, President Barack Obama issued 23 executive orders directing federal agencies to improve knowledge of the causes of firearm violence, what might help prevent it, and how to minimize its burden on public health. One of these orders directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to, along with other federal agencies, immediately begin identifying the most pressing problems in firearm violence research. The CDC and the CDC Foundation asked the IOM, in collaboration with the National Research Council, to convene a committee tasked with developing a potential research agenda that focuses on the causes of, possible interventions to, and strategies to minimize the burden of firearm-related violence. The committee's proposed research agenda focuses on the characteristics of firearm violence, risk and protective factors, interventions and strategies, the impact of gun safety technology, and the influence of video games and other media. Access the report here.
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    INDUSTRY NEWS


    Commonly prescribed drugs may influence the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease
    ScienceDaily
    Multiple drug classes commonly prescribed for common medical conditions are capable of influencing the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. The findings are published online in the journal PLoS One.
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    Antidepressants of questionable value in late-onset illness
    Medscape
    Adults aged 60 years and older with long-standing moderate to severe depression are most likely to derive clinically meaningful benefit from antidepressant therapy. In contrast, antidepressants do not appear to be effective for older patients with late-onset illness, new research suggests.
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    Hypometabolism in brain regions of cognitively normal patients associated with Alzheimer's disease
    News-Medical.net
    Alzheimer's disease has been linked in many studies to amyloid plaque buildup in the brain, but new research is finding a common thread between amyloid burden and lower energy levels, or metabolism, of neurons in certain areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease — even for people with no sign of cognitive decline.
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    A dementia that rivals Alzheimer's strikes before age 65
    NBC News
    VideoBriefFrontotemporal dementia affects a different area of the brain than Alzheimer's, destroying the frontal lobes and spurring big personality changes.
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