News/Press Releases

New AGS President Has an Important Message for Colleagues, Older Adults, Caregivers: “We’re With You”

New York (May 6, 2020)—Annette (Annie) Medina-Walpole, MD, AGSF, has a simple message for colleagues, caregivers and older adults, but one she hopes hits home: “We’re with you—because building momentum for aging today, troubled as today may seem, will build momentum for a better tomorrow.”

Dr. Medina-Walpole’s “today” is certainly unprecedented. She not only assumes responsibilities as the newest president of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) but also does so as shifting demographics and a global pandemic bring urgent attention to her expertise and that of her more than 7,000 AGS colleagues.

These are extraordinary times, but Dr. Medina-Walpole is no ordinary leader. She’s a geriatrics health professional—a pioneer in advanced-illness care for older individuals, with a focus on championing interprofessional teams, eliciting personal care goals, and treating older people as whole persons. And she believes that expertise will be key, not only to combatting COVID-19 but also to ensuring health, safety, and independence for us all as we age. Her AGS colleagues believe so, too, and now will work with her and other AGS leaders to ensure that vision remains an actionable priority.

National Nursing Home Safety Panel is a Step in Right Direction in Response to COVID-19, AGS

New York (May 1, 2020)—The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is encouraged that the White House has established a Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes as part of our national response to COVID-19. This interprofessional task force will now assess action on COVID-19 for a critical and disproportionately impacted group: Older American residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

“As we’ve already learned, outbreaks in nursing homes are a foreseeable consequence of this pandemic, even with our frontline providers working as valiantly as they are,” notes AGS Chief Executive Officer Nancy Lundebjerg, MPA. “Our advocacy at the AGS has emphasized ensuring that all people—especially those most at risk—receive the care they need. We urge the Administration to ensure the task force includes experts important to public health planning, such as geriatrics health professionals and nursing home administrators. We also look forward to working with the Administration to advance the task force’s work in key areas, like prioritizing testing and safety for older adults and those who care for them in long-term care.”

More than 15,000 nursing homes care for the oldest and most chronically ill Americans, who are also among the most susceptible to COVID-19 and its complications, such as respiratory failure and death. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts at the AGS have been focused on the needs of older adults, with unique attention to caring for older people in nursing homes and other care settings.

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: