House committee passes credit card legislation
WASHINGTON The next step in the battle between the credit card industry and retailers occurred yesterday when the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill by a vote of 19-16, which will help to mandate that credit card companies negotiate the fees they charge merchants for electronic transactions. Retailers have been accusing Visa and MasterCard of levying excessive fees.
Card company executives counter that the legislation would simply push more of the cost onto consumers. The so-called interchange fee, which Visa says averages about 1.6 percent, differs depending on the merchant and type of card.
The fees are set by Visa and MasterCard but are collected by the merchant’s bank as part of a larger charge for processing the transaction. The credit card companies say they don’t receive revenue from the fees.
Retailers complain the fees are set collectively by the credit card companies and large banks and are presented to merchants as a “take it or leave it” offer.
Visa- and MasterCard-branded cards account for 80 percent of the credit card market.
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Take Care co-founder tops list of promotions at Walgreens
DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has named Take Care clinic co-founder and chairman Hal Rosenbluth a corporate senior vice president of the company, in addition to his role as president of Walgreens Health and Wellness division.
The chain formed the Health and Wellness division in March, in the wake of its acquisitions of leading worksite clinic operators, I-trax, of Chadds Ford, Pa., parent company of CHD Meridian Healthcare, and privately held Whole Health Management of Cleveland. Including its prior acquisition of Take Care Health Systems, Walgreens operates more than 500 clinics under its Health and Wellness division.
“Hal’s strength as an entrepreneur who knows how to build profitable businesses is serving him well as he leads the integration of I-trax, Whole Health Management and Take Care Health Systems under our Health and Wellness division,” said Walgreens chairman and chief executive officer Jeffrey A. Rein.
Prior to starting Take Care, Rosenbluth, who has 29 years of experience in the business-to-business sector, ran Rosenbluth International, a global travel management company, which he also founded. Before selling it in 2003 to American Express—the year before he began Take Care—Rosenbluth grew RI to a $3 billion business with 4,300 employees operating in 15 countries.
In addition, Rosenbluth is also credited with having been instrumental in the formation of the Convenient Care Association, and served as the group’s first chairman.
In other news, Walgreens also named Michael Nameth, who is currently executive vice president for pharmacy benefit management and specialty pharmacy at Walgreens Health Services division, to a corporate divisional vice president. Nameth joined Walgreens with its 2006 acquisition of Medmark Specialty Pharmacy Solutions.
“Mike is a strategic thinker, operations-oriented and good with people,” said Rein. “His understanding of the managed care business will be a tremendous asset as we accelerate our strategy.”
Prior to Medmark, Nameth spent 10 years at WellPoint, and was president of its pharmacy benefit management unit, and has more than 20 years of experience in the managed care industry.
Finally, Walgreens has also promoted Mark A. Wattley, currently vice president and legal counsel of human resources for Walgreens Health Services, to a corporate divisional vice president for Walgreens. Wattley joined Walgreens 10 years ago as a senior attorney in employee relations and moved to Walgreens Health Services in 2003. Prior to Walgreens, he was an employment litigation attorney with the Chicago Board of Education.
“Mark is a great listener, and as our Walgreens Health Services division has grown through acquisitions, he understands the trepidation people often feel when their companies are acquired by a larger one,” said Rein. “Mark has been very effective at retaining key people by welcoming them and easing their way into the Walgreens team.”
Mark seems to be the perfect candidate and an asset to the Walmart Corporation.
CVS reports more than $1.5 billion in savings for the ExtraCare program
WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS announced on Wednesday that its ExtraCare cardholders received a total of more than $1.5 billion in money-saving offers and rewards last year by using their loyalty card each time they shopped at a CVS pharmacy location or on the retailer’s Web site.
“In today’s economy, people are looking for ways to save money wherever they can. The best advice for saving money without feeling the pain is to make small changes in daily activities—buying store brands instead of name brand products—and taking advantage of rewards programs that can offer savings on everyday purchases,” stated John Barron, director of relationship management at CVS.
With more than 50 million cardholders, CVS’ ExtraCare program is the largest consumer rewards program in the nation, according to the company. Cardholders receive 2 percent of all purchases back quarterly, delivered in the form of free “CVS money” called Extra Bucks. In addition, members receive benefits such as instant targeted offers on register receipts. More than 10 million ExtraCare members have enrolled in CVS’ email alerts program, which delivers additional coupons and health and beauty information directly to shoppers’ email inboxes.
According to CVS, the following cities represent communities where shoppers saved the highest amount of money through the ExtraCare program during the last six months of 2007:
- Boston: Shoppers saved nearly $3.4 million in ExtraCare savings and rewards.
- Los Angeles: Shoppers saved more than $2.7 million in ExtraCare savings and rewards.
- Detroit: Shoppers saved about $2.5 million in ExtraCare savings and rewards.
- Washington, D.C.: Shoppers saved more than $2.3 million in ExtraCare savings and rewards.
- Philadelphia: Shoppers saved more than $2 million in ExtraCare savings and rewards.
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