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The Little Clinic opens first Atlanta-area clinic

BY Antoinette Alexander

BRENTWOOD, Tenn.— The Little Clinic, which operates clinics inside select Kroger, King Soopers and Fry’s Food Stores, opened on Aug. 5 its first location inside a Kroger store in the Atlanta area and expects to open a second Atlanta-area clinic this year as well.

The new Marietta, Ga., clinic showcases a new design with a semi-private waiting area, two exam rooms and an electronic kiosk for patient sign-in. A second Atlanta-area clinic will open in Cartersville this year, the clinic operator announced.

“The Little Clinic is very pleased to be serving the healthcare needs of Kroger customers in Marietta,” said Mike Stoll, CEO of The Little Clinic, which is owned by Kroger. “Our goal is to provide patients with a healthcare alternative that provides affordable, quality, and convenience. We look forward to being a part of the Marietta and Cartersville communities as our parent company, Kroger, has been for years.”
 
In separate news, The Little Clinic has appointed Richard Magner as its new VP human resources. According to the company, Magner will provide leadership as The Little Clinic continues to expand its relationship with Kroger through assimilating human resources processes between the two companies.

Magner joins The Little Clinic with more than 35 years of experience in the retail grocery industry as a Kroger employee and almost 30 years as a human resources practitioner.

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The Little Clinic announces donation program to support U.S. troops

BY Antoinette Alexander

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Little Clinic, located in select Kroger, King Soopers and Fry’s Food Stores, has announced that, through sports physicals provided at the clinics, it is supporting U.S. troops through a special donation program with the USO.

“We already offer a convenient, affordable sports physical for parents who have children playing fall sports. Now we have an easy way for them to support a very good cause at no additional cost,” stated Michael Stoll, CEO of The Little Clinic. Students are required to obtain a physical to play such fall sports as football, cross-country, hockey, soccer and others. 

This year, The Little Clinic is donating $10,000 to the USO.
 
“We are reminded that our children are able to play freely in their sports uniforms because of the men and women who are putting on their military uniforms to protect our freedom,” Stoll added. “This is one small way we can support our troops in service and their families.” 
 
The Little Clinic, a subsidiary Kroger, is partnering with the USO in a special yearlong campaign with the goal of raising $1 million to support U.S. troops. Kroger raised $400,000 for the USO in 2010. 

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Mail-order bill just scratches surface of future PBM market

BY Rob Eder

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — This isn’t just about mail order in New York state. This is about the future of the pharmacy benefit management market and what payers are more likely to spend their money on. It’s about choice. And because of that, this is just another story in what has been a very busy news cycle on the PBM front, driven primarily by the anti-mandatory mail-order bill battle in New York, reactions to two contradictory studies on patients regarding mail order and adherence, and continued challenges to the proposed ESI-Medco merger.

(THE NEWS: N.Y. state mail-order bill would raise drug costs, reduce access, FTC says. For the full story, click here.)

In New York, the state senate voted 60-2 to approve a bill that would ban mandatory mail in the state; the vote was unanimous in larger state assembly. While the Federal Trade Commission merely offered its opinion that the bill would raise drug costs and governor Andrew Cuomo — who is expected to receive the bill for either his signature or his veto on Aug. 19 — can choose to ignore FTC altogether if he chooses to.

The PBM lobby, however, clearly is happy for FTC comments. Meanwhile, community pharmacy leaders maintain that the FTC’s arguments are based on flawed data from a 2005 Government Accountability Office report that found that mail is cheaper than retail. The problem — noted Craig Burridge, executive director of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, in a radio interview last week with Northeast Public Radio affiliate WAMC — is that the GAO report compares average cash prices at retail to average mail-order prices, rather than the average third-party cost at retail.

It is important to note that the New York state bill would require retail pharmacies to match the mail-order price on the cost of a 90-day prescription.

As the situation in New York continues to unfold, a study funded by CVS Caremark and published in the current issue of the American Journal of Managed Care found that adherence rates in the first year among newly diagnosed diabetic and cardiovascular disease patients were significantly lower among mandatory mail customers.

Those results seem to contradict the results of another adherence study funded by the PBM Prescription Solutions and published in the Journal of Medical Economics that found adherence rates among patients on oral diabetes medicines were better among mail-order patients (49.7%) versus retail pharmacies (42.8%).

In the end, these types of studies that measure what payers get for their pharmacy benefit costs, and how these costs affect total healthcare spending and patient outcomes, will outweigh the short-term cost savings of mail order versus retail pharmacy — that is, if there actually is a savings in the short term. Which side will payers — including the government, which is due to become a much larger healthcare payer in 2014 — pay attention to?

It is interesting to note that in all of these debates, CVS Caremark, with its massive retail and PBM operations, seemingly has emerged as “Switzerland” in all of this. Theoretically, even the cynic’s cynic would have to believe the CVS Caremark studies are closer to the actual truth than anything coming from the pure-play PBM camp.

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