Current Awareness in Aging Research (CAAR) Report #74--March 8, 2001

CAAR (Current Awareness in Aging Research) is a weekly email report produced by the Center for Demography of Health and Aging at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that helps researchers keep up to date with the latest developments in the field. For more information, including an archive of back issues and subscription information see:


I. Data:

1. IOM CATALOG: The US Institute of Medicine has made available "The Medical Follow-up Agency Cohort Catalog" at its website. At present there is catalog information on 48 cohorts. "The Cohort Catalog is designed to provide researchers with an awareness of the data resources developed by the Medical Follow-up Agency, typically based on data made available by Federal Agencies. ...It does not describe public-use databases. The Cohort Catalog is ultimately intended to stimulate collaborative research activity between interested individuals or organizations and MFUA." Note: The catalog does not provide access to data files. For more information on the catalog, and the access process see:

2. MEPS 1997 UPDATES: The US Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality announced updates to selected 1997 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component Event Files on Mar. 1, 2001. For the updates see:

Household Component Event Data Files:

Note: Interested users should read the "Notes on Downloading Files" section before downloading files.

More information on MEPS:

3. HRS: The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research Health and Retirement Study has released a data update with respect to the 1996 Wave 3 public release:

HRS data can be accessed from:

4. AOA: The US Administration on Aging has adapted a table from the US Census Bureau to create a table called "Resident Population of the United States: Estimates by Age, 1990-2000" (HTML and Microsoft Excel format).

Note: Link to Excel spreadsheet is at the bottom of the table.


II. Reports and articles:

5. DHHS OIG OAS FY 2000 REPORT: "Improper Fiscal Year 2000 Medicare Fee-for-Service Payments," (US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General Office of Audit Services A-17-00-02000, March 2001, .pdf format, 17p.).


This final report points out the results of our review of Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 Medicare fee-for-service claims. Based on our statistical sample, we estimate that improper Medicare benefit payments made during FY 2000 totaled $11.9 billion, or about 6.8 percent of the $173.6 billion in processed fee-for-service payments reported by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). As in past years, these improper payments could range from inadvertent mistakes to outright fraud and abuse. Since we developed the first error rate for FY 1996, HCFA has closely monitored Medicare payments and has instituted appropriate corrective actions. The HCFA has also worked with provider groups to clarify reimbursement rules and to impress upon health care providers the importance of fully documenting services. Additional initiatives on the part of the Congress, HCFA, the Department of Justice, and the Office of Inspector General have focused resources on preventing, detecting, and eliminating fraud and abuse. All of these efforts, we believe, have contributed to reducing the improper payment rate by almost half from FY 1996 to 2000. However, continued vigilance is needed to ensure that providers maintain adequate documentation supporting billed services, bill only for services that are medically necessary, and properly code claims. These problems have persisted for the past 5 years. Our recommendations address the need for HCFA to sustain its efforts in reducing improper payments.

Click on "Complete Text of Report" for full text.

6. DOJ OJP REPORT: "Our Aging Population: Promoting Empowerment, Preventing Victimization, and Implementing Coordinated Interventions," (a national symposium sponsored by the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Health and Human Services, report of proceedings, US Office of Justice Programs NCJ 186256, December 2000, .pdf format, 313p.).


Report on the proceedings of a national symposium on elder victimization. The symposium featured promising multidisciplinary approaches to reducing and preventing crimes against older people, bringing together professionals from the public safety, social service, and health care fields.


A. "Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes," Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Social Security by Command of Her Majesty, March 2001 (Cm 5076, .pdf format, 26p.).

Click on "Full Text" at the bottom of the page.

B. "Security for Occupational Pensions - The Government's proposals," (UK Department of Social Security, March 2001, .pdf format, 9p.).

8. NIA ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE RESEARCH UPDATE: "Scientists Zero In on Enzyme at Work in Alzheimers Disease" (US National Institute on Aging, Feb. 26, 2001).

9. _NATURE NEWS AND VIEWS, ARTICLE ABSTRACT: Note: Full electronic text (HTML and .pdf format) may be available. Check your organization's library.

A. "Ageing: Yeast longevity gene goes public," by David Gems (_Nature_ News and Views, Vol. 410, No. 6825, Mar. 8, 2001, p. 154-155).

B. Increased dosage of a _sir-2_ gene extends lifespan in _Caenorhabditis elegans_, by Heidi A. Tissenbaum and Leonard Guarente (_Nature_, Vol. 410, No. 6825, Mar. 8, 2001, p. 227-230).

10. _BMJ_ EDITORIAL: "Controlling infection in British nursing homes," by Sheldon P. Stone, C.C. Kibbler, C. Bowman, and David Stott (_British Medical Journal_, Vol. 322, No. 7285, Mar. 3, 2001, .pdf and HTML format, p. 506).

11. _JAMA_ NEWS: "Immediate Prescription Coverage in Doubt for Medicare Recipients," by Rebecca Voelker (_Journal of the American Medical Association_, Vol. 285, No. 9, Mar. 7, 2001, HTML and .pdf format, p. 1144).

12. MEDSCAPE ARTICLE: Note: Medscape requires free registration before providing articles: "Consumerism and Escalating Drug Costs: A Volatile Mix," by Timothy F. Dickman (_Drug Benefit Trends_, Vol. 13, No. 1, January 2001, p. 48-52).


13. AARP PERIODICAL: AARP has made electronically available selected articles from the March/April 2001 issue of _Modern Maturity_.

14. AARP PRIME TIME RADIO: Note: These are audio transcripts and listeners will need the RealPlayer plug-in or helper application to hear them.

A. Feb. 6, 2001. "A Marriage Sabbatical." "Some years ago, Sabina Shalom was a very traditional stay-at-home wife and mother who faced an empty nest and a career-absorbed husband. Her solution? Take a sabbatical! Sabina Shalom joins host Mike Cuthbert for a fun and inspiring conversation about her revolutionary idea for saving her mid-life marriage." Running time: 30 minutes 8 seconds.

B. Feb. 13, 2001. ""My Generation." "It's the biggest new magazine launch in history: how did they do it, and why? Betsy Carter and Hugh Delehanty, the top editors of _My Generation_ talk about their publication and how they plan to focus squarely on the bulge in the graph - boomers." Running time: 23 minutes 56 seconds.

C. Feb 20, 2001. "Creativity in the Second Half of Life." "We don't usually think of the second half of life as a time bursting with creativity - but we should, according to Dr. Gene Cohen, one of the world's leading authorities on aging. His latest work: _The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life_, breaks new ground in discovering and exploring the relationship between creativity and aging, and he shares some of his findings and ideas with host Mike Cuthbert." Running time: 30 minutes 10 seconds.

These and other stories can be found at:


III. Working Papers:

15. NBER: Note: To access the electronic full-text of the working paper click on the "PDF" link or submit your email address at the bottom of the abstract.

A. "Age Discrimination Legislation in the United States," by David Neumark (National Bureau of Economic Research W8152, March 2001, .pdf format, 46p.).


Legislation prohibiting age discrimination in the United States dates back to the decade of the 1960s, when along with the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act barring discrimination against women and minorities, the U.S. Congress passed the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Many critical issues regarding the rationale for or effectiveness of age discrimination legislation have been addressed, and continue to be studied, by researchers in both economics and law, while many questions remain. These questions are likely to become increasingly important as rapidly aging workforces in the United States and other industrialized countries threaten to vastly increase the social costs of any barriers to older workers' employment. This paper provides a summary, critical review, and synthesis of what we know about age discrimination legislation. It first traces out the legislative history and the evolving case law, and discusses implementation of the law. It then moves on to review the existing research on age discrimination legislation research that addresses the rationale for the legislation, evidence on its effectiveness, and criticisms of age discrimination legislation.

B. The Benefits and Costs of Newer Drugs: Evidence from the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey," by Frank R. Lichtenberg (National Bureau of Economic Research W8147, March 2001, .pdf format, 27p.).


The nation's spending for prescription drugs has grown dramatically in recent years. Previous studies have shown that the replacement of older drugs by newer, more expensive, drugs is the single most important reason for this increase, but they did not measure how much of the difference between new and old drug prices reflects changes in quality as better, newer drugs replace older, less effective medications. In this paper we analyzed prescribed medicine event-level data (linked to person- and condition-level data) from the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to provide evidence about the effect of drug age on mortality morbidity, and total medical expenditure, controlling for a number of characteristics of the individual and the event. (Previous researchers have hypothesized that differences in treatment patterns across individuals and areas may occur because of physicians' uncertainty and ignorance over the best medical practice.) The MEPS data enable us to control for many important attributes of the individual, condition, and prescription that influence outcomes and non-drug expenditures and that may be correlated with drug age. These include sex, age, education, race, income, insurance status, who paid for the drug, the condition for which the drug was prescribed, how long the person has had the condition, and the number of medical conditions reported by the person. Indeed, the fact that many individuals in the sample have both multiple medical conditions and multiple prescriptions means that we can control for all individual characteristics both observed and unobserved by including "individual effects." The results provide strong support for the hypothesis that the replacement of older by newer drugs results in reductions in mortality, morbidity, and total medical expenditure...


IV. Journal Tables of Contents (check your library for availability):

16. Aging and Mental Health (Vol. 5, No. 1, February 2001).

Click on page number for abstract.

17. American Journal of Public Health (Vol. 91, No. 3, March 2001). Note: This journal is available in full electronic text in the ProQuest Research Library and EBSCO Academic Search Elite Database. Check your library for the availability of these databases and this issue.

Table of Contents:

Selected Abstracts:

18. CARL Uncover Journal Tables of Contents. Follow the instructions below to access tables of contents. CARL Uncover provides fee based document delivery services for selected journals.

A. Point your browser to:

B. click on "Search Uncover"
C. click on "Search Uncover Now"
D. Type the Journal Name in the search box and click the radio button"Journal Title Browse"
E. click on the journal name
F. click on "journal issues"
G. click on the issues identified below

Journal of Health and Social Behavior (Vol. 41, No. 4, December 2000). Note: This journal is available in full electronic text in the ProQuest Research Library. Check your library for the availability of this database and this issue.

Journal of Women and Aging (Vol. 12, No. 3 / 4, 2000).


V. Books:

19. IOM: _Improving the Quality of Long-Term Care_, edited by Gooloo S. Wunderlich and Peter O. Kohler (Committee on Improving Quality in Long Term Care, Division of Health Care Services, US Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press, 2001, Open Book format, 348p.). Note: ordering information and a book synopsis are also available at the site.


VI. Conferences:

20. 3RD LEONARD BERG SYMPOSIUM: "Neurobiology of the Aging Nervous System: Models, Manipulations & Alzheimer's Disease," September 21-22, 2001, St. Louis, Missouri. For more information see:


VII. Websites of Interest:

21. MEDSCAPE RESOURCE CENTER WEBSITE UPDATE: Note: Medscape requires free registration before providing content. Medscape has updated the"Osteoporosis" section of its Resource Center. The meta-page contains links to news and information on the topic.


22. AOA: The US Administration on Aging has updated its Frequently Asked Questions about the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2000 website to include a selection of FAQs on nutrition.


Jack Solock
Data Librarian--Center for Demography and Ecology and Center for Demography of Health and Aging
4470 Social Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706