Healthcare pioneer Steve Burd will still have an indelible impact on healthcare reform
After 20 years at the helm, Safeway CEO Steve Burd last week announced his retirement to spend more time with family and pursue interests in health care. He will be leaving behind a Safeway that’s gaining market share with each passing quarter within a highly competitive sector.
But he shouldn’t go far. As a champion of health reform and consumer directed care, Burd will likely continue to be a pioneer in the healthcare space as companies begin to implement Obamacare in 2014.
To be sure, before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was even signed into law on March 23, 2010, Burd was already pioneering several healthcare reforms designed to incentivize consumer directed care at Safeway. And the success of those programs, which Burd outlined in a 2009 Wall Street Journal op-ed, helped popularize a "Safeway amendment" within healthcare reform, whereby employers can provide employees reimbursement of up to 20% of insurance premiums — rising up to 30% in 2014 or 50% with special approval — if they participate in reasonable wellness programs.
"Safeway’s plan capitalizes on two key insights gained in 2005," Burd wrote in his WSJ op-ed. "The first is that 70% of all healthcare costs are the direct result of behavior. The second insight, which is well understood by the providers of health care, is that 74% of all costs are confined to four chronic conditions — cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Furthermore, 80% of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is preventable, 60% of cancers are preventable, and more than 90% of obesity is preventable."
It’s that kind of insight, that kind of personal experience in creating, massaging and implementing a workable solution to lower an employer’s healthcare costs that will prove invaluable in the coming year.
And he’s not alone; DSN found this video press conference on the Facebook page of the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform, of which Burd was a founding member, that was posted Jan. 30, 2009. Check it out. While the most recent presidential election helped polarize attitudes toward "Obamacare," this serves as a reminder as to what’s at stake and how healthcare reform will impact your business.
So what do you think? Have the predominant healthcare reform issues changed much since 2009? Does Obamacare effectively address many of the concerns outlined in the CAHR press conference? Is your company in the process of replicating incentive-driven, consumer-directed healthcare programs similar to the one that Burd set up at Safeway? Sound off in the comments section below!
Sam’s Club offers free New Year’s resolution health screenings
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club is offering free health screenings as part of a New Year’s promotion, the club retailer said Friday.
The chain will offer free glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index and vision screenings at all of its stores that have pharmacies on Jan. 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"The start of a new year provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on the personal changes we want to make and to commit to a healthier lifestyle," Sam’s Club SVP health and wellness Jill Turner-Mitchael said. "By offering free health and vision screenings now, Sam’s Club will help our communities assess the current status of their health and set realistic goals for 2013 and beyond."
The company said that it would provide free screenings every other Saturday of each month through October 2013, noting that it had provided 2.2 million free screenings since 2011.
Family Dollar’s sales rise in Q1
MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar stores reported a 12.7% increase in net sales and a 6.6% increase in comps in first quarter 2013, the company said.
The dollar-store chain reported net sales of $2.42 billion, compared with $2.15 billion in first quarter 2012, with an 18.5% increase in sales in tobacco, food and health and beauty aids products. Profit for the quarter was $80.3 million, compared with $80.4 million in first quarter 2012, with earnings per share of 69 cents. During the quarter, the company opened 125 new stores, closed one and renovated, relocated or expanded 169. The company has more than 7,500 stores in 45 states.
"The investments we have made to increase our relevance to the customer are delivering results," Family Dollar chairman and CEO Howard Levine said. "While the near-term economic environment remains difficult to predict, I continue to be excited about the long-term opportunity for our business. We are seeing tangible benefits from our margin-enhancing investments in global sourcing and private brands, and as we work to drive further benefit from the investments we are making to expand profitability, I remain confident that our efforts will deliver stronger results as we progress through fiscal 2013 and beyond."
Analysts were enthusiastic about the chain’s prospects, as Guggenheim Partners analyst John Heinbockel recommended buying the stock, and as Citi analyst Deborah Weinswig called the company’s earnings per share of 69 cents a "surprise following very strong [same-store sales] of 6.6%."
Analysts had mixed opinions of the results. Weinswig had forecasted earnings per share of 77 cents and was surprised by the results as same-store sales had beat her estimates. Meanwhile, Heinbockel said he would continue giving Family Dollar’s stock a "Buy" rating and said guidance still looked optimistic.
"In our view, FDO’s principal mistakes were undertaking too many margin-depressing initiatives at the same time and not accurately anticipating the magnitude of the discretionary weakness," Heinbockel wrote in a report.