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NRF urges repeal of healthcare-reform law

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation announced that it has urged the House to support a vote to repeal last year’s healthcare-reform law, saying the measure already has begun to discourage job creation and should be replaced with legislation that reduces healthcare costs while protecting jobs.

“The previous Congress’ healthcare-reform debate was highly — and in our opinion, unnecessarily — divisive,” NRF VP and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein said. “The retail industry proposed and strongly supported comprehensive healthcare reform that would reduce healthcare costs and extend coverage to the uninsured. Instead, Congress enacted — over the business community’s strong objections — a reform law that will fail to reduce healthcare costs and will impose penalty mandates on employers in 2014 that are already deterring job growth today at the expense of tomorrow’s economy.”

Trautwein’s comments came in a letter to speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and all other members of the House. The House began debating on H.R. 2, the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” and is scheduled to vote Wednesday on that bill plus a resolution that would instruct committees to begin developing substitute legislation.

Trautwein noted that NRF has worked closely with the Obama administration on steps to smooth implementation of the law, such as a November agreement that will allow limited benefit “mini-med” plans provided to employees by some retailers and restaurants to continue in operation at least through 2011. Without the agreement, the 1.4 million workers covered by such plans could have been left without coverage until insurance “exchanges” are established in 2014.

“Nonetheless, we are convinced that the health-reform law is, on the whole, misplaced and will hazard future job and economic growth,” Trautwein said. “We strongly support this effort to repeal and replace the health-reform law with more job-friendly healthcare reform that will concentrate first on reducing the cost of medical care.”

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SmartSource brings coupon site to mobile devices

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — SmartSource.com has gone mobile.

Thanks to Augme Technologies, the consumer coupon site now offers users the capability to scroll through available offers and select which coupons they want to use from any Web-enabled phone, smart phone or other mobile communications device, without the hassle of downloading special software or applications.

"Digital couponing solutions where consumers can clip coupons, select samples or obtain product information via mobile devices are a game-changing promotional tool," said Henri Lellouche, SVP iGroup at News America Marketing, which owns SmartSource.

Chris Mixson, News America Marketing president, said, "Smart-phone ownership is on the rise, but it’s important to us to give as many consumers as possible access to this powerful savings tool today. We have long had a commitment to shoppers to provide them with savings wherever they choose to look, whether in the newspaper, in stores, online and now on their mobile device."

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CVS’ Bloom, Baker to lead chain’s retail business on interim basis

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark has pulled the plug on its plan to hire former Walmart exec Hank Mullany, and is handing the keys to its retail business on an interim basis to Mike Bloom, EVP merchandising and supply chain, and Scott Baker, EVP internal operations and real estate, who will assume management for the company’s 7,100-plus stores.

Bloom and Baker, who will report to Larry Merlo, president and COO of CVS Caremark, are assuming these duties on an interim basis, pending the completion of the company’s search for a new president of CVS/pharmacy.

CVS Caremark had hired former Walmart executive Hank Mullany as president of CVS/pharmacy. Walmart then sued CVS Caremark, alleging that Mullany’s contract forbids him from working for a company that competes with Walmart. In December, a Delaware judge granted Walmart’s request for a preliminary injunction, blocking CVS Caremark from hiring Mullany.

CVS Caremark stated on Tuesday that it has made the decision to resume its search for a new president of CVS/pharmacy.

"As the company’s succession planning process moves forward and I have assumed more enterprise-wide responsibilities, we made the decision to delegate the day-to-day operations of our retail business to two of our most senior retail executives," Merlo stated. "What has remained clear throughout our search for a new president of CVS/pharmacy is that we are very fortunate to have a strong, stable group of senior leaders supporting our business. This team of individuals has helped shape our direction and deliver industry-leading results and has consistently demonstrated the highest levels of leadership and teamwork. I expect this success to continue into the future as Mike and Scott lead the retail organization."

Bloom has more than 30 years of retail experience, 20 of those years with CVS/pharmacy. As the senior CVS/pharmacy executive with direct oversight over merchandising and supply chain activities, Bloom leads an integrated end-to-end network managing store layout, as well as the selection, purchasing, inventory and supply of product throughout the company’s retail locations, plus managing the company’s visual merchandising and pricing departments. In addition to his current role, Bloom will now assume responsibility for advertising and marketing.

Baker, whose tenure with CVS/pharmacy spans more than 25 years, has held a variety of senior roles, including SVP retail operations and head of the company’s East retail field operations. Baker, a pharmacist by training, will now assume responsibility for all of the company¹s retail field organizations and pharmacy operations.

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