Week In Review

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Spotlight on #AGS21: The Annual Meeting Starts NEXT WEEK!

T-minus five days until the most wonderful time of the year! We can't be more excited to connect with you at our very first VIRTUAL AGS Annual Meeting, this May 13-15 & pre-conference day May 12.

So, what will you need to know about this history-making AGS event? We've provided you with a roundup checklist to prepare you for #AGS21...with some fun extras, of course!

  • First things first: there is still time to register! If you haven't already, sign up now to join us next week (plus, you'll have access to sessions on-demand through August 15).
  • Want to know what to expect before, during, and after the meeting? Check out our handy and comprehensive FAQ here.
  • There are over 800 abstracts being presented at #AGS21! Get a sneak peek and flag those you're most interested in with the JAGS abstract supplement.
  • Many of those abstracts come from trainees who will be presenting their research at Poster Session D (Fri., May 14, 2:45-3:45pm ET). Want to show your support for residents and help amplify their research? Become a poster judge! Email Lauren Kopchik, AGS Staff, at lkopchik@americangeriatrics.org if you're interested.
  • Who's receiving awards and special recognition this year? Check out our list of 2021 awardees (and be sure to watch the award ceremony celebrating your colleagues once the annual meeting site opens).
  • Looking to connect virtually with other members one-on-one? Don't forget to join the new Mentor Match Program, available 24/7 right now, during the meeting, and beyond.
  • We've got High Hopes for the 2021 AGS Annual Meeting, it's true—with all of our efforts combined, we're sure we've spent 10,000 Hours pulling it together (you may say that some Fearless AGS staffers were driven into Summer Madness ensuring we're giving you our absolute Sunday Best). But for the Kings & Queens of geriatrics, we knew we had to make this meeting Simply the Best. However, do you know what would make #AGS21 absolute Dynamite? An extra-special, member-made, "AGS From Home" playlist! Put on your Boogie Shoes and get ready to Celebrate Good Times, because this meeting is Signed, Sealed, Delivered and ready to start with a Bang! 
  • If you're still with us and you read that last bullet, you may be wondering how to get your own song requests onto our playlist. You can do so by joining the AGS Virtual Challenge, a social media competition that might just win you a prize! Check out all of our prompts and competition details here, and follow @AmerGeriatrics to get in on the fun in real-time.
AGS21 Virtual Meeting


New Report Outlines Recommendations for Scaling High-Value Primary Care

This week, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a new report Implementing High-Quality Primary Care: Rebuilding the Foundation of Health Care, which puts forth an evidence-based plan with actionable objectives and recommendations for implementing high-quality primary care in the United States. The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is one of the fiscal sponsors of the report and we provided testimony to the independent panel that developed these recommendations.  

The report defines primary care in much the same way that we define geriatrics – stating that primary care clinicians provide continuous, person-centered, relationship-based care that considers the needs and preferences of individuals, families, and communities. The panel made the case that high-quality primary care is the foundation of a well-functioning healthcare system.  Without access to high-quality primary care, minor health problems can spiral into chronic disease, chronic disease management becomes difficult and uncoordinated, visits to emergency departments increase, preventive care lags, and health care spending soars to unsustainable levels.

Furthermore, the report highlights that unequal access to primary care remains a concern, and the COVID-19 pandemic amplified pervasive economic, mental health, and social health disparities that greater access to high-quality primary care might have reduced. Primary care is the only health care component where an increased supply is associated with better population health and more equitable outcomes. For this reason, primary care is a common good, which makes the strength and quality of the country’s primary care services a public concern.

The report includes an implementation plan that aims to balance national needs for scalable solutions while allowing for adaptations to meet local needs. The plan also outlines five objectives each which has its own action items. The full report as well as fact sheets on each of the five objectives can be found on the report page here. AGS is currently digesting the report and will be reviewing the recommendations of the report with our leadership.   

Five Objectives for Achieving High-Quality Primary Care as Outlined by NASEM

  1. Pay for primary care teams to care for people, not doctors to deliver services.
    The nation gets what it pays for, and payment reform that supports and encourages high-quality primary care, rather than actively discouraging it, is fundamental to the committee’s vision of high-quality primary care.
  2. Ensure that high-quality primary care is available to every individual and family in every community.
    Everyone in the country should have easy access to high-quality primary care that is person centered, relationship oriented, and responsive to the needs of its community.
  3. Train primary care teams where people live and work.
    When primary care training is interprofessional and located in community settings, it is more effective at developing the skills that will keep people connected and healthy.
  4. Design information technology that serves the patient, family, and interprofessional care team.
    New health information technology standards should prioritize and facilitate integrated care that is person-centered, supports relationships, and is responsive to the needs of its community.
  5. Ensure that high-quality primary care is implemented in the United States.
    Implementing high-quality primary care requires clear and meaningful measures of whole-person care, ongoing research, and leadership in the federal government to ensure federal policies support its development.

This Week in Advocacy & Public Policy

  • AGS Supports the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act
    Last week, the AGS sent a letter to Congressional leadership supporting the reintroduced Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (S. 1024/H.R. 2255), a bipartisan bill to enhance our nurse and physician workforce by recapturing unused immigrant visas as we continue to face challenges from the COVID-19 crisis. This important legislation would ensure our nation expands the number of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and other qualified health care workers available to care for older Americans during the COVID-19 PHE and beyond.
  • Revised Guidance for Nursing Home Visitation and Testing Requirements
    Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated recommendations for infection prevention and control in response to COVID-19 vaccination. Visitation guidance now includes recommendations for acute care facilities, including nursing homes, and describes circumstances when source control and physical distancing are not required during visitation. The CDC also added guidance for communal activities and dining in healthcare settings. Fully vaccinated residents may dine and participate in group activities without wearing source control or physical distancing if all participating residents are fully vaccinated. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revised its memo on visitation and testing requirements to incorporate the changes.
  • ACL Issues $1.4B in American Rescue Plan-Funded Grants for COVID-19 Recovery
    This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Community Living (ACL) released grants totaling $1.4 billion for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs to help older adults recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded through the American Rescue Plan, these grants to the aging services network will support vaccine outreach and coordination, provide family caregiver support, help older adults connect and engage with others to reduce social isolation, and offer nutrition support. The funding includes $460 million for home and community-based services through the OAA and $10 million to support State Long-term Care Ombudsman programs to advocate on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities across the country. Read the fact sheet here.
  • CMS Increases Medicare Payment for COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibody Infusions
    Beginning on May 6, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) increased the Medicare payment rate for administering monoclonal antibody products – authorized or approved by the FDA – to treat beneficiaries with COVID-19, continuing coverage under the Medicare Part B COVID-19 vaccine benefit. Beneficiaries pay nothing out of pocket regardless of where the service is furnished – including in a physician’s office, health care facility, or at home. The national average payment rate will increase from $310 to $450 for most health care settings. In support of providers’ efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, CMS will also establish a higher national payment rate of $750 when monoclonal antibodies are administered in the beneficiary’s home, including the beneficiary’s permanent residence or temporary lodging (e.g., hotel/motel, cruise ship, hostel, or homeless shelter). Learn more on the Monoclonal Antibody COVID-19 Infusion webpage. Coding resources on the COVID-19 vaccines and monoclonal antibodies can be found here.

IDSA Features AGS Members in Podcast on Vaccinating Homebound Older Adults

In a new episode of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) podcast, produced in partnership with the American Geriatrics Society, AGS members Timothy Farrell, MD, AGSF, and Melissa Dattalo, MD, MPH, discuss barriers to vaccinating older adults who are homebound and cognitively impaired against COVID-19, and solutions to those barriers.

"I think this comes down to proactive outreach, and certainly ride services and transportation are important, but it's not enough to do that; we also have to bring the vaccine to patients," Dr. Farrell said.

Current barriers to reaching the 20 percent of older adults who remain unvaccinated include not only transportation, but language barriers and limited health and technological literacy.

Dr. Dattalo suggested that part of the CDC funding allocated to addressing these issues should be used to establish distribution partnerships with healthcare providers already working in the home.  Without access to COVID-19 vaccines, her own Home-Based Primary Care Service at UW Health in Madison, WI partnered with a home health agency that has now administered more than 160 COVID-19 vaccines to older adults and caregivers and expanded its reach beyond its patients. 

"I think this is a great example of a local success story," and a potentially replicable one, she said.

Listen to the full IDSA podcast here

Remembering Carmel Dyer

We are sad to share that Carmel Dyer, a leading light in the geriatrics community, passed away on Tuesday, May 4th. UTHealth has published a lovely in memoriam about Carmel, her work, and her impact on her community. Her obituary can be found here.

Carmel Dyer, MD, AGSF, FACP

In Honor of Older Americans Month: Submit Your Stories of Resilience in Older Adults and Caregivers

Older Americans Month is hosted each May by the Administration for Community Living (ACL). For #OAM2021, AGS is celebrating the strength of the geriatrics community—both the healthcare professionals who support us, and the older adults and caregivers who continue to show us what strength and resilience looks like. The power of connection and engagement can make us even stronger, so we invite members of our community to connect next month by sharing their stories—stories of joy in their everyday personal and professional lives, stories about reaching out to neighbors and colleagues, and stories about building and teaching new skills.

Share your stories with us by tagging @AmerGeriatrics on Twitter or emailing them to Nicole Levy, Senior Manager of Communications, at nlevy@americangeriatrics.org.

Notice of Annual Members' Business Meeting

The Annual Members' Business Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society will be available on the AGS Annual Meeting Virtual Platform from May 5th through August 15th. The business meeting is open to all AGS members attending the AGS Annual Meeting, as well as to non-members. Following August 15th, the meeting will be available on AmericanGeriatrics.org. Agenda items will include the Treasurer's Report, remarks from the CEO, the announcement of the results of the AGS Board of Directors Election, recognition of outgoing 2019 and 2020 Board members, new Fellows of the Society, and remarks from the incoming AGS President.

2021 Geriatrics at Your Fingertips Now Available with Immediate Member Access!

An AGS member favorite, Geriatrics at Your Fingertips® (GAYF) is an annually updated reference that provides quick, easy access to the specific information clinicians need to make decisions about the care of older adults.

This year's updates include a new section on preventive cardiology, new guidelines on asthma, osteoarthritis, and gout, and new material on telehealth and endovascular thrombectomy. The text and tables contain updated and newly recommended diagnostic tests and managment strategies.

AGS members now have immediate access to the 2021 GAYF! The full digital format has been added to your library on GeriatricsCareOnline.org. Sign in using your AGS member credentials, and start using this reference today! 

GAYF 2021 Cover

Application Now Available for the Joint AGS/NIA/ACC Conference on Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease

We are excited to announce that "Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease"—the third in a three-part series of U13 Bench-to-Bedside Conferences—will be held October 18-19, 2021 in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), and the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the conference will provide attendees with opportunities to learn about cutting-edge research, participate in creating recommendations for future research, and network with colleagues and leaders in the field. Click HERE for the preliminary conference agenda, and be sure to submit your application by Mon., June 14. Learn more here.