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Cancer practices hit hard by sequester, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Cuts to Medicare payments due to the budget sequester have hit reimbursements for cancer drugs, according to a nonprofit group.

The Community Oncology Alliance released results Thursday of a survey of oncologists from around the country on the effects of the sequester cut to Medicare payments, finding that the 2% cut has "inordinately" affected community oncology practices because it is a cut to the underlying cost of cancer drugs, placing many of them "under water" — meaning that the reimbursement by Medicare is less than the drug’s purchase price. The survey was based on a poll of 326, accounting for 1,650 oncologists who see a total of 728,721 Medicare patients per year.

Most cancer patients are treated in office-based practices, and 69% of those surveyed said patient treatment and operational changes had already been made due to the cut. These include 49% of practices that had to send Medicare patients elsewhere for treatment and 62% who said they would have to send them elsewhere if the cut stays in place through July 31. Meanwhile, 21% said they were laying off staff, and 38% would be forced to if the cuts stay in place this summer. More than 1,200 community cancer practices have closed, consolidated or reported financial problems since 2008.

"We are now seeing the cascading effects of sequestration," COA president and Columbus, Ohio-based oncologist Mark Thompson said. "Many practices are now sending their Medicare patients to hospitals for chemotherapy, while others are laying off staff. Practices are so financially threatened that discussions of merging with a hospital – despite the increase in cost of care to the patients and the system – are being reopened."

According to the survey and a study conducted by actuarial and consulting firm Milliman, the sequester cut will cost Medicare $450-600 million per year because of the shift to more expensive care in hospitals.

 

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A.SAIKI says:
May-09-2013 10:47 pm

Everyone knew that somewhere sometime there would be consequences to implementing out-of-control spending. So cancer patients suffer while unmarried high school and college kids get free birth control pills which cause cancer. Where is the logic and what happened to the grown ups?

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CVS launches nationwide new Total Home line of household essentials

BY Jason Owen

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Today, CVS/pharmacy announced the official launch of Total Home, a new home care product line built on performance, reliability and premium quality that is now available exclusively at CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide.

The new Total Home line includes a wide range of products for everyday home care, ranging from cleaning and cooking to organizing, and has undergone rigorous quality testing to offer customers exceptional, reliable options at a 15-20% savings compared to popular national brands. Among the more than 150 items included in the line are facial and bath tissue, paper towels, trash bags, food storage necessities, kitchen and bathroom cleaners, bulbs, extension cords and more.

"Growing and enhancing our store brand offerings continues to be a priority for CVS/pharmacy," said George Coleman, vice president of Merchandising, Store Brands and Quality Assurance, CVS/pharmacy. "We offer customers the convenience of a one-stop shopping destination to find all their health, beauty and household essentials. We are confident that as customers give Total Home a try, these products will exceed their performance expectations and become a staple in their homes."

Maintaining a home is a tough job, which is why CVS/pharmacy aims to provide high-quality, dependable products that help families effectively complete everyday household tasks as conveniently and affordably as possible. Whether the day brings spills to clean up, leftovers to store or laundry to take care of, Total Home offers the products needed to get the job done affordably and efficiently.

Every Total Home product is tested to ensure that it meets or exceeds the performance and important product attributes of the leading comparable national brands. By unifying all home care-related products under the new Total Home brand with a new logo and packaging, CVS/pharmacy is making it easy for customers to recognize the line and stock up on home essentials.

CVS/pharmacy stands behind the quality of all its exclusive product lines including Total Home and offers a 100 percent money-back guarantee to ensure customer satisfaction. Now available at more than 7,400 locations, customers will have the convenience of picking up high-quality household essentials by stopping into their local CVS/pharmacy. Shoppers can also find the extensive line of Total Home products online on CVS.com.


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DEA collects more than 740,000 pounds of unused drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The Drug Enforcement Administration collected more than 371 tons of unused medications last month as part of its sixth annual drug take-back program, the agency said.

For National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, on April 27, the DEA collected 742,497 pounds of medications at more than 5,800 locations, with cooperation from state, local and Native American tribal law enforcement agencies that partnered with the agency. The total amount of drugs collected over the past six years amounts to more than 2.8 million pounds. The purpose of the events is to prevent drugs from ending up in landfills and water supplies, as well as to keep controlled substances out of the hands of drug abusers.

According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey, twice as many Americans regularly abused prescription drugs in 2011 as those who abused cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants combined. According to the same survey, more than 70% of people abusing prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives.

 

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