Health AGEnda

Amy Berman

About Amy Berman

Amy J. Berman, BS, RN, is a Senior Program Officer at the Hartford Foundation, with primary oversight of the Developing and Disseminating Models of Care portfolio.

An Open Letter to CMS: Medicare Rule Covering
End-of-Life Conversations Would Be Lifesaving

Amy Berman prepares for her single, larger dose of image-guided radiation therapy.

Amy Berman prepares for her single, larger dose of image-guided radiation therapy.

Editor’s Note: The following open letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, written by Senior Program Officer Amy Berman, was originally published by the Washington Post on Sept. 28, 2015. To read the article on their site, please visit A nurse with fatal breast cancer says end-of-life discussions saved her life. 

To: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:

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Dr. Suzanne Landis Demonstrates True Meaning of Leading Practice Change

Dr. Suzanne Landis has devoted her life to improving care for older adults.

Dr. Suzanne Landis has devoted her life to improving care for older adults.

Suzanne Landis, MD, MPH, drives an older, sensible car. She is an understated person often found standing in the back row of group photos. But don’t let her modest demeanor fool you.

She is one of the most giving and effective people I know. Dr. Landis, who practices geriatrics in rural Western North Carolina, leads the Center for Healthy Aging at the Mountain Area Health Education Center.

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Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Contributes to Better Health for Older Americans

gay_coupole_nyc_shutterstock_235663813The landmark United States Supreme Court decision that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution has important implications regarding the health and care of older Americans.

Studies show that denying same-sex couples the right to marry has a negative impact on their mental health, according to a 2006 report by Herdt & Kertzner. And a growing body of evidence suggests that policies conferring protections to same-sex couples are linked to lower health care and mental health care utilization, as well as to decreased health care spending.

There also are numerous studies confirming the health benefits of marriage for older heterosexual couples. “Married persons, on the whole, tend to have lower rates of fatal and nonfatal diseases, physical functioning problems, and disability compared to all other marital status groups,” reported Amy M. Pienta et al. in Health Consequences of Marriage for the Retirement Years, published in the Journal of Family Issues in 2000.

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Focusing on the Health Goals of Older Adults

Missed_Target_400pThis week we offer a poignant story of one physician’s struggle to understand what he could do to help his aging and ailing new patient. Written by Dr. Mitch Kaminski, and originally posted on Pulse, a leading narrative medicine website, this true tale makes the point that if we don’t understand a person’s own personal health goal, we are unlikely to achieve it.

We are unlikely to help them.

The John A. Hartford Foundation is deeply committed to aligning care by all health care providers to address the goals of older patients. As people age and become much more medically complex and frail, well-intended treatments may not help with pain or function. The treatment may create new problems and burdens.

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Hartford Foundation and CMMI Work Together to Spread Hospital at Home Model

Caregiving_400pFor two decades, the John A. Hartford Foundation has invested in the development and spread of the Hospital at Home model of care, which provides safe, high-quality, hospital-level care to older adults with select conditions in the comfort of their own home.

Over those years, studies have consistently shown that the model delivers improved care and outcomes at lower costs. But adoption has been limited, leading us to conclude that Hospital at Home was ahead of its time.

Now, its time has come. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), awarded a $9.6 million Health Care Innovation Award to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai—in consultation with Johns Hopkins University—to test a version of Hospital at Home called the Mobile Acute Care Team (MACT).

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Adventures in Choosing Wisely

Amy Berman prepares for her image guided radiation therapy.

Amy Berman prepares for her image guided radiation therapy.

I live with stage IV cancer—cancer that has spread to the far reaches of my body, an incurable disease, a terminal diagnosis. But if you saw me—if our carts randomly bumped into each other in the supermarket—you would never think I live with serious illness.

And let me add that I feel as well as I look, just great.

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Building the Field of Palliative Care Together

Funders share information on investments in palliative care at the recent convening.

Funders share information on investments in palliative care at the recent convening spearheaded by the Hartford Foundation.

Palliative care is an essential component of care for the seriously ill. Yet, the term is often misunderstood by policymakers, the public, health care providers, and, no surprise, even those in philanthropy.

The John A. Hartford Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the spread of high-quality palliative care through its funding of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), led by Diane Meier, MD (see Celebrating CAPC and Our 500th Blog Post!). Dr. Meier often refers to palliative care as an “extra layer of support” for the seriously ill and their families.

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Remembering Jessie Gruman

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published  Aug. 15 on the Health Affairs Blog.

Jessie Gruman: "an elegant, gracious, yet fierce warrior advocate."

Jessie Gruman: “an elegant, gracious, yet fierce warrior advocate.”

Jessie Gruman, founding president of the Center for Advancing Health, died on July 14 after a fifth bout with cancer. Jessie was a hero to patients, families, and health care providers for her selfless work to help people better understand their role and responsibilities in supporting their own health.

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Geriatric Nursing Leadership Academy Achieves Impressive Results


The latest cohort of fellows in Sigma Theta Tau International’s Geriatric Nursing Leadership Academy pose for a group photo with their leadership mentors, faculty, and representatives of Sigma Theta Tau and the Hartford Foundation.

I recently traveled to Indianapolis, home to Sigma Theta Tau International, the honor society of nursing. There I met six very special individuals, competitively selected as fellows in Sigma’s Geriatric Nursing Leadership Academy.

The Geriatric Nursing Leadership Academy aims to prepare and position geriatric-expert nurses as leaders within the interprofessional health care delivery environment. The fellows I had the honor of meeting expressed an unwavering commitment to developing their influence and impact in hospitals, nursing homes, and home health to benefit vulnerable elders.

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Narrative Matters, The Next Chapter: Amy Berman Reflects On ‘Living Life In My Own Way’

Amy Berman speaks at TEDMED's  Great Challenges in Health Care in 2013.

Amy Berman speaks at TEDMED’s Great Challenges in Health Care in 2013.

Editor’s Note: In this post, originally published on Health Affairs Blog, Amy Berman shares more of her story as a person living with stage IV cancer who has chosen a palliative care approach.

She contributes  regularly to Health AGEnda about her experiences and how they relate to the John A. Hartford Foundation’s support for palliative care for older adults facing serious illness. In March 2014, the Hartford Foundation awarded a new grant to the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) to build on the successful spread of hospital-based palliative care and move these services into care settings outside the hospital.

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