Gearing up for a new healthcare landscape
Is your organization prepared to navigate the new healthcare landscape? That was the question posed by health policy experts in a NACDS TSE Insight Session Sunday.
Although employers have been granted a deadline extension on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide health coverage options for their employees, most provisions of the ACA are scheduled to go into effect next year. With those provisions will come an expansion of Medicaid as tens of millions of Americans become eligible for health coverage through health insurance exchanges.
Thomas Merrill, senior analyst with Leavitt Partners, discusses healthcare exchanges during a TSE Insight Session Sunday.
Those exchanges will take many forms, according to Aaron Larrimore, policy analyst with the National Association of Medicaid Directors, and Thomas Merrill, senior analyst with Leavitt Partners. The two analysts sketched the outlines of what is likely to be a complex and confusing set of coverage options for patients.
“An exchange is essentially a place where people can go to buy and sell commodities,” Merrill said. In terms of health care, he said, that will “hopefully” give the consumer the ability to make choices among various health plans in terms of deductible costs, premiums, coverage and service levels.
Pharmacists, the speakers predicted, will be among those called on to help explain the options to them. And those choices will have to be made relatively soon.
“For Medicaid directors … there’s a lot of drive to make this a reality in a short amount of time,” Larrimore noted. Open enrollment in the exchanges is mandated by law to be available to Medicaid patients Oct. 1, “and by Jan. 1 Medicaid and the exchanges are supposed to be able to provide the care,” he said.
Coca-Cola addresses nutrition issues
Not all food is bad food. And no food is bad food if taken in moderation. According to panelists participating in the “Helping Your Shoppers Achieve Energy Balance to Support Active Healthy Living” panel sponsored by Coca-Cola, there are many misnomers in the marketplace regarding nutrition.
“We believe that consumers, in order to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle need to be educated about choices,” noted John Carroll, VP drug/dollar channel for Coca-Cola.
“What we talked about today was eating and enjoying food, but also energy balance and making sure consumers understand the choices they’re making from a food and beverage perspective. It’s also making sure that they understand there is a balance between calories in and calories out.”
The panel provided a guide to retailers to help consumers understand the merits of making appropriate food choices and achieving “energy balance,” which is calories consumed verses expended.
John Carroll, VP drug/dollar channel for Coca-Cola, discussed educating consumers about a healthy, balanced lifestyle at a panel on Sunday.
“You cannot talk about what you eat in a vacuum,” cautioned Robyn Flipse, founder of Nutrition Communication Services. “It’s lifestyle that defines what we eat and when.”
Some of the sociocultural trends impacting food choices include harried schedules, lack of knowledge and changing demographics — baby boomers are more apt to eat out, for example.
Diplomat event highlights rise of specialty pharmacy
The Drug Store News Group and Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy drew a packed room full of retail executives and pharmacy leaders from many of the nation’s top drug, supermarket and mass merchandise chains to a breakfast pow-wow Sunday morning in Las Vegas.
The guest list for the event read like a who’s who of chain pharmacy representatives. They were drawn by the very real need to learn how to compete more effectively in the rapidly emerging new era of specialized pharmaceuticals. Diplomat’s leadership team didn’t disappoint. Addressing the packed gathering at the Dal Torro Restaurant, CEO Phil Hagerman and VP clinical services Gary Rice both provided insights into the specialty pharmacy market.
Phil Hagerman and Gary Rice of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy with DSN editor Rob Eder and Darren Singer of Safeway.
In addition, Diplomat’s Ela Lourido spoke about the emergence of the company’s Retail Pharmacy Network as a partner to help retail pharmacies engage effectively with the specialty arena. The event also marked the publication of a special report on Diplomat by Drug Store News. DSN publisher Wayne Bennett and editor-in-chief Rob Eder joined with Diplomat leaders to celebrate the unveiling of the report in the Aug. 12 issue of Drug Store News.