News/Press Releases

AGS Commends CMS on Expanded Telehealth Services, Support

New York (April 30, 2020)—The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) today commended the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which announced a new round of regulatory waivers and rule changes aligned with feedback from the AGS. Specifically, CMS now broadened its list of telephone/audio-only services to include behavioral health care and patient education. CMS also increased reimbursement for telephone/audio visits, so they remain on par with reimbursement for similar office and outpatient care.

“For geriatrics health professionals, telehealth has emerged as an invaluable tool for ensuring that older Americans have access to the care they need,” said AGS Chief Executive Officer Nancy Lundebjerg, MPA. “One challenge has been how best to care for older adults, many of whom are not comfortable with or do not have resources like smartphones or are uncomfortable operating audio/video-capable software and mobile applications. This change from CMS will help ensure that medically complex older adults will have access to their clinicians using familiar technology.”

AGS COVID-19 Policy Brief Offers Roadmap to Government Action in Oft-Overlooked Sphere: Assisted Living Facilities

New York (April 28, 2020)—In a policy brief published today in its namesake journal (DOI: 10.1111/jgs.16510), the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) offered a roadmap to guide federal, state, and local governments addressing COVID-19 concerns in an important but oft-overlooked arena: Assisted living facilities (ALFs). The brief, which joins an earlier statement on COVID-19 care in nursing homes (DOI: 10.1111/jgs.16477), outlines recommendations based on the latest research and guidance, encompassing actions on resource needs, patient transfers, priorities for public health, and opportunities to better empower health workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 care.

“As we’ve already learned, outbreaks impacting older people are a foreseeable consequence of this pandemic, even with experts working as valiantly as they are,” notes AGS President-Elect Annie Medina-Walpole, MD, AGSF. “We hope this brief can help policymakers, advocates, and clinicians look at but also beyond the circumstances we can control—and those we can’t—to prioritize the innovation, collaboration, and compassion that can put residents and public health first. That’s a cardinal direction for planning in crisis and in calm, regardless of where we may live as we age.”

UPDATE: AGS Commends HRSA for Providing Funds to Geriatrics Workforce for Telehealth Priorities

New York (April 27, 2020)—The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) today commended the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) for supporting crucial efforts to enhance the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Programs (GWEPs). The assistance comes through supplemental funds of $4.35 million for telehealth services as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed on March 27, 2020.

In letters to the Administration and Congress regarding the CARES Act, the AGS strongly advocated for including additional funding for the GWEPs, one of the only federal programs supporting training for the workforce we need as we age. Support in response to COVID-19 remains key, as new care delivery models are deployed rapidly through Congress’s COVID-19 relief packages.

The $4.35 million for telehealth provides for funds to be distributed among GWEP grantees to:

AGS Experts: Here’s What Older Adults Need for a “Reopened” U.S. That Can Serve Us All as We Age

New York (April 22, 2020)—As federal and state officials announce plans for reopening the U.S., the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) reiterates important priorities for reopening a country where more individuals than ever before are older adults.

Today’s U.S. is home to more than 50 million people 65-years-old and older, and tomorrow’s U.S. is building the momentum we need for millions more to contribute to our communities as we age. But today’s U.S. also has seen the COVID-19 pandemic jeopardize that progress in critical ways. At present, more than 30 percent of COVID-19 cases involve older people, who also account for 45 percent of hospitalizations, 53 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, and 80 percent of deaths.

As we look to reopen a country that ensures we remain as safe, healthy, independent, and engaged as possible as we age, AGS experts encourage federal, state, and local authorities to anchor plans in better health and care for us all:

COVID-19 UPDATE: In New Letters to Congress & Administration, AGS Reiterates Urgent Call for Medical Supplies, Telehealth

New York (April 17, 2020)—In a new series of letters sent yesterday to Congressional leaders, Vice President Pence, and White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx, MD, experts at the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) continued to reinforce the need for medical supplies, telehealth, expertise in older adult care, and a range of other priorities as the federal government plans the next phase of America’s response to COVID-19. As diverse as these important focal points are, they highlight a key theme that crosscuts the pandemic: Building momentum for older adult care builds momentum for us all.