ATA partners with minority caucuses to advance telemedicine legislation at the state level
WASHINGTON — The American Telemedicine Association, the leading nonprofit membership organization for remote medical services, is working with three minority legislative caucuses to educate lawmakers and introduce model legislation for telehealth in statehouses around the country. ATA has formed partnerships with the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL), the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) with the goal of maximizing state-government support of telemedicine. All three organizations have recently passed resolutions calling for the removal of artificial policy barriers and greater adoption of telehealth services.
“This collaboration builds on the great work already being done to advance telemedicine in forward-thinking state legislatures,” said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. “States are often the true innovators in developing policies, regulations and payment mechanisms in support of telemedicine. We’re using the outcomes, evidence and lessons learned from these cases to show all state governments how telemedicine can improve the quality of health care, increase access and reduce costs."
NOBEL, NBCSL and NHCSL are natural allies for ATA, both for their focus on state policy and as representatives for minority populations. Telemedicine is proven to have a significant positive impact on historically underserved groups. “Remote healthcare services can alleviate chronic healthcare shortages that exist in both urban centers and rural areas,” Linkous said.
ATA and its members have been instrumental in steering state policies to better deploy telemedicine. To date, 16 states’ legislatures have mandated payer reimbursement of telemedicine services. Almost every state now includes some telehealth in their Medicaid programs and many states are expanding their services to cut Medicare service costs. ATA has also worked to eliminate burdensome regulatory issues that exist, or have been proposed, in many states.
In October 2012, ATA received a grant from the Human Resources and Services Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to research state telehealth policies and promote state-level best practices.
The American Telemedicine Association is the leading international resource and advocate promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies. ATA and its diverse membership work to fully integrate telemedicine into healthcare systems to improve quality, equity and affordability of health care throughout the world. Established in 1993, ATA is headquartered in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit the organization’s website.
Approach of holidays brings increase in retail foot traffic, sales for week ended Dec. 8
CHICAGO — Holiday shoppers continued their quest for the perfect gifts during the week ended Dec. 8, according to ShopperTrak. Consumer activity drove a 7.8% increase in foot traffic and 6.5% increase in sales from the previous week.
Consumers, however, were not as active as they were at this time last year, with a sales decrease of 1.5% when compared to the same period in 2011. ShopperTrak predicted last week’s slight lags in year-over-year foot traffic, as an extra full weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year means shoppers have more time to postpone their holiday purchases.
Week-over-week numbers improved in part due to the beginning of Hanukkah on Dec. 8. ShopperTrak expects this pattern of increasing foot traffic and sales to continue, with the week before Christmas generating the largest weekly sales volume of the year.
"Shoppers have 12 days, including two full weekends, to complete their Christmas purchases," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. "After this week, stores and malls are going to see business picking up as droves of consumers tick off the final items of their shopping lists. The best way for retailers to translate this expected increase in retail foot traffic into more sales is to measure and manage their shopper conversion rates. This information will allow them to respond to the holiday shopper’s uneven behavior and secure their bottom lines as the year draws to a close."
ShopperTrak analyzed retail foot traffic from more than 50,000 locations across 74 countries to create this National Retail Sales Estimate of general merchandise, apparel, accessories, furniture and other specialty categories.
NRF reports boost in November sales with start to holiday shopping season
WASHINGTON — According to the National Retail Federation, eager holiday shoppers helped November retail sales — excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants — increase 0.8% seasonally adjusted from October and increase 4.4% unadjusted year-over-year. The NRF also expects holiday sales to grow 4.1% over the last holiday season.
"A successful Thanksgiving weekend for retailers and diminishing impacts in the Northeast due to Hurricane Sandy put retail sales back on track in November after tepid results in October," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "Though negotiations in Washington over the fiscal cliff could affect consumer confidence and spending in December, overall we are optimistic that we’ll see solid sales growth this holiday season."
November retail sales, released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed total retail and food service sales increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 3.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
"Stable employment rates, lower gasoline prices and a recovering housing market have all contributed to a holiday shopping season that is on target to meet our original expectations," NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "American consumers are expected to spend cautiously as they monitor the situation in Washington and wrap up their holiday shopping lists."
Due to Superstorm Sandy, many retailers reported losses after forced store closures, while others — like home and building supply stores — witnessed spikes in sales due to recovery and rebuilding efforts. Those retailers’ sales increased 1.6% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month.