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HHS offers framework to establish Affordable Insurance Exchanges

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday proposed a framework to assist states in building Affordable Insurance Exchanges, state-based competitive marketplaces where individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase affordable private health insurance.

“Exchanges offer Americans competition, choice and clout,” stated HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Insurance companies will compete for business on a transparent, level playing field, driving down costs; and Exchanges will give individuals and small businesses the same purchasing power as big businesses and a choice of plans to fit their needs.”

The National Community Pharmacists Association issued a statement of initial support of the HHS document, specifically citing the need to create a transparent, level playing field with regard to pharmacy benefit managers. “Community pharmacists applaud the department for including in the proposed rule PBM transparency language, a bipartisan provision of the [Patient Protection and] Affordable Care Act,” stated NCPA EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey. “With this step, the administration is also reaffirming its support for PBM transparency in the exchanges by including an implementation pathway in the rule.”

Beginning in 2014, Exchanges will make it easy for individuals and small businesses to compare health plans, find out if they are eligible for tax credits for private insurance or health programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and enroll in a health plan that meets their needs, according to HHS.

HHS is accepting public comment on the proposed rules over the next 75 days to learn from states, consumers and other stakeholders how the rules can be improved. HHS will modify these proposals based on feedback from the American people. To facilitate that public comment process, HHS will convene a series of regional listening sessions and meetings.

For more information on Exchanges, including fact sheets, visit Healthcare.gov/exchanges.
 

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Supervalu’s Albertsons banners to keep self-checkout lanes

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS — Supervalu on Monday issued a clarification that its Albertsons banners are not removing any self-checkout lanes from their stores.

Confusion was created out of an announcement at the top of July that Albertsons LLC, a separate entity that owns and operates 217 stores in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas and Utah, decided to remove self-checkout lanes from its stores.

“Since this story broke last week, our customers have called us and we learned first-hand that they want and appreciate the convenience of self-checkout lanes,” stated Lilia Rodriguez, Supervalu spokeswoman.

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P&G adds new recipes to IAMS Healthy Naturals line

BY Gail Hoffer

MASON, Ohio — P&G has expanded its IAMS pet food line with the addition of Sensitive Naturals and Simple and Natural recipes to its IAMS Healthy Naturals collection. IAMS Healthy Naturals was launched in 2007 and includes four recipes for dogs and three for cats.

The IAMS Sensitive Naturals recipe is designed with ocean fish (haddock, cod and flounder) as the first ingredient, and is ideal for dogs with ingredient sensitivities, which affect up to 25% of all dogs, according to P&G. IAMS Simple & Natural is made for dogs, with chicken as the first ingredient for 100% nutrition and 0% filler, the company reported. Both varieties contain rice and barley and include the following ingredients for added health benefits:

  • Higher levels of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that work on the inside to ensure a dog’s sensitive skin and coat health;

  • Natural prebiotic FOS (fructooligosaccharides);

  • Beet pulp and apple pomace for healthy digestion;

  • Fiber blend for nutrient absorption; and

  • Higher levels of the antioxidant vitamin E for a strong immune system.

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