HHS partners with drug store chains to underscore Medicare benefits to seniors
WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday announced partnerships with several pharmacies to help customers learn about new Medicare benefits available to them under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
These partnerships — with CVS Caremark, Sam’s Club, Thrifty White, Walgreens and Walmart — will provide Medicare beneficiaries with a range of educational materials on newly available preventive services, as well as savings on prescription drug spending in the "doughnut hole" coverage gap.
At a CVS/pharmacy in Jacksonville, Fla., this morning, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed the new preventive services and received a free blood-pressure reading at the store’s MinuteClinic. "Our pharmacy partners are helping their customers make informed healthcare decisions," Sebelius said. "These partnerships will help people with Medicare learn more about new preventive services, such as mammograms, and the new annual wellness visit that [is] available at no charge for everyone with Medicare."
Some examples of how pharmacy partners are working to increase awareness of preventive services available under Medicare include the following:
CVS Caremark is distributing material about new preventive services covered at no cost to beneficiaries at its more than 7,300 CVS/pharmacy stores and 600 MinuteClinic locations through brochures, register receipt messages and online;
Thrifty White Pharmacy is providing information on preventive services through its 85 locations throughout the Midwest;
Walgreens is distributing information in nearly 8,000 pharmacies and more than 350 Take Care Clinic locations, as well as using in-store announcements and providing this information as part of its Walgreens Way to Well Health Tour with AARP; and
HHS is working with Walmart and Sam’s Club to provide healthcare information to their shoppers online.
Other pharmacies or partners can find information on how to work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to educate consumers about the benefits available to them here.
In addition, all Take Care Clinics located at select Walgreens locations now provide the "Welcome to Medicare" preventive visit and Medicare yearly wellness visits, Walgreens announced in a separate release. The Welcome to Medicare preventive visit and Medicare yearly wellness visits are wellness services for Medicare enrollees that include screenings for a number of common conditions, as well as education and counseling to encourage wellness and prevent disease.
According to CMS, only 6.5% of eligible seniors have used their Medicare wellness visit benefit. The benefit is available upon enrollment and then once a year with no out-of-pocket costs. With accessible locations inside more than 360 Walgreens and convenient seven-day-a-week hours, Take Care Health Systems can help remove barriers to healthcare access that may prevent Medicare enrollees from easily accessing care.
Take Care Clinics are professional healthcare centers located at more than 360 select Walgreens drug stores across the country, which offer walk-in and appointment availability. Board-certified family nurse practitioners and physician assistants treat patients ages 18 months and older for common illnesses; offer such preventive services as vaccines and physicals; and are licensed to write prescriptions, when necessary, that can be filled at the patient’s pharmacy of choice.
Patients can visit TakeCareHealth.com to schedule an appointment and to view local and up-to-date information on patient satisfaction scores, market-specific quality of care scores, wait times and service costs.
SoftSheen-Carson Magic Shave, actor Terrence J donate to nonprofit organization
NEW YORK — SoftSheen-Carson Magic Shave, a maker of African-American men’s shaving and grooming products, and actor and TV personality Terrence J donated $15,000 to the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation at the 10th Annual Hoodies Awards on Aug. 4 in Las Vegas.
The donation was part of Magic Shave’s “Shave With A Purpose” campaign in conjunction with Terrence J and The Source.com.
For six weeks, Terrence J grew out his beard for the campaign. For every post, comment and upload to media partner The Source.com, proceeds benefitted the national organization dedicated to developing programs and supporting the needs of community-based organizations for African-Americans across the nation.
Johnson & Johnson reformulating products to remove harsh chemicals
SKILLMAN, N.J. — Personal care maker Johnson & Johnson is on a course to reformulate nearly all of its adult toiletries and cosmetics in less than four years in an effort to remove potentially cancer-causing and other dangerous chemicals.
In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, the company said it is on track to have baby products, including its No More Tears baby shampoo, reformulated by the end of 2013. Adult products will reformulated by the end of 2015.
Meanwhile, the company has launched a new website, SafetyAndCareCommitment.com, to share with consumers its commitment to ensuring the ingredients in its products are safe and high quality.
“You’ve told us that trust is built on more than safety alone. And while all our products are safe and effective, you’ve said that you want to hear more about our ingredients and our safety decision-making process,” the company stated on the website. “It’s one of the reasons we created this website — to share our approach to safety and our ingredient policies with you. It’s all part of Our Safety & Care Commitment. And while the commitment is constant, the information here will be updated when our products and our policies evolve to reflect new regulations, new scientific developments, and your views and concerns.”
The site will evolve and will be updated to incorporate consumer feedback, the latest science, new regulations and new information about J&J’s policies. The site contains information about its approach to research, the care it puts into the development of products for babies and toddlers, and its commitment to sustainability. Visitors to the site also will find information about such topics as the role of preservatives and fragrances.
The AP reported that the key chemicals in question are 1,4 dioxane and the preservative formaldehyde, which is slowly released by a chemical called quaternium-15 to kill bacteria. Both 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde potentially are human carcinogens; formaldehyde also is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant.
The AP reported that, by 2015, Johnson & Johnson will phase out those two chemicals and others of concern, including triclosan, phthalates and parabens, as well as fragrance ingredients, which aren’t disclosed on product labels. However, it will allow chemicals that release formaldehyde when no safe alternative will work and is reducing levels of 1,4 dioxane to below 10 parts per million.
"Many of our products will be ahead of this timing," Susan Nettesheim, VP product stewardship and toxicology for J&J’s consumer health brands, said. She noted its products already met or exceeded regulatory limits.
The company told the AP that since 2010, it reduced the number of products containing chemicals that release formaldehyde by 33% and the products that contain 1,4 dioxane by 74%. In 2005, it launched the Johnson’s Soothing Naturals line, products with no 1,4 dioxane and/or formaldehyde-releasing chemicals. That evolved into Johnson’s Natural baby products.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics issued a statement on Wednesday praising J&J for its commitment to removing potentially dangerous chemicals from its products, and stated that it will call on other cosmetic and personal care companies to follow suit.