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More signs that 2012 is tipping point for convenient care industry

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Just days after Drug Store News reported — once again — that 2012 is proving to be a significant year for the convenient care industry, yet another turn of events further solidified what we’ve been saying for quite some time.

(THE NEWS: Report: South Carolina allowing clinics to enroll as providers in Medicaid. For the full story, click here.)

The Post and Courier has reported that, beginning this month, South Carolina is allowing retail-based health clinics to enroll as providers in Medicaid, a move that will enable Medicaid patients to use clinics for wellness visits, preventive services and to treat acute ailments. The state currently has 25 retail-based health clinics, all of them CVS Caremark-owned MinuteClinics.

The reason is simple: To expand access to care and keep those patients with basic health issues from using high-cost emergency departments, as South Carolina Medicaid director Tony Keck explained.

In fact, a Rand Corp. study published in late 2011 in the American Journal of Managed Care found that care initiated at retail clinics is 30% to 40% cheaper than similar care at physician offices and approximately 80% cheaper than similar care at emergency departments.

The Post and Courier reported that MinuteClinic already is considered “in network” for some South Carolina Medicaid patients who have managed care plans, the article stated, and Medicaid programs in several other states already cover care at retail-based health clinics.

The move in South Carolina comes on the heels of major legislation in Massachusetts.

As reported by Drug Store News, Massachusetts lawmakers passed a massive healthcare bill that brings expanded scope of services, in such areas as monitoring of chronic diseases and prevention and wellness offerings, to patients of limited-service clinics — marking not only a significant milestone for the state’s healthcare system but also for the convenient care industry at large.

The new definition of limited services includes diagnosis treatment, management and monitoring of acute and chronic disease, and wellness and preventive services, all within the scope and practice of nurse practitioners.

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again — 2012 is shaping up to be a major tipping point for the convenient care industry.

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Save Mart raises funds for children’s hospitals

BY Allison Cerra

MODESTO, Calif. — Save Mart Supermarkets announced that all of its banners — including Save Mart, S-Mart Foods, Lucky, FoodMaxx and Maxx Value Foods stores — will be raising funds for children’s hospitals in California and Nevada.

Through Aug. 31, the stores will be selling paper icons for $1 at checkout stands, which will be displayed in stores once they are purchased. The hospitals that will be supported include Bakersfield Memorial Hospital; Children’s Hospital of Central California; Oakland Children’s Hospital and Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, all of which are located in California, and Renown Children’s Hospital in Nevada.

Save Mart Supermarkets operates 226 stores throughout northern California and northern Nevada.

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99 Cents Only celebrates 30th anniversary

BY Allison Cerra

CITY OF COMMERCE, Calif. — 99 Cents Only Stores is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Since its founding in 1982, the chain has expanded to 302 extreme value stores in four states consisting of 220 stores in California, 37 in Texas, 29 in Arizona, and 15 in Nevada. As part of the celebration, the company is converting 40 semi-trucks from diesel to clean-burning compressed natural gas. Additionally, the company is offering a free reusable shopping bag to customers who visit the store this weekend and purchase at least $9.99 worth of merchandise.

"We are thrilled to be marking this important 30 year milestone by making this announcement which will help save the planet, use a plentiful domestic resource and help save our customers money. We believe we will have one of the nation’s largest retail fleets operating on compressed natural gas," 99 Cents Only CEO Eric Schiffer said.

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