News

Obama administration delays employer insurance mandate

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a one-year delay on a health reform mandate that mid-size and larger employers provide health coverage or pay a penalty to 2015, according to published reports. 

According to a story in The New York Times, the postponement will not directly affect other central provisions of the law, including the establishment of health insurance exchanges. Neither will it relieve Americans from the responsibility of either having health insurance or paying penalties. 

However it may hinder the administration’s efforts to put those provisions into play and has many wondering if Obamacare is built upon a house of cards.

"This step could significantly reduce the number of uninsured people who will gain coverage in 2014," suggested Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, to The Times

However, according to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll conducted in June, the average consumer wants and values health insurance, even young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. As many as 77% in that age group reported that insurance "is very important to them." Almost two-thirds are concerned about paying medical bills for a serious illness or accident and 44% are worried about paying for routine care. 

Estimates of the number of patients gaining coverage as of Jan. 1 2014 have been as high as 30 million and remain a key quotient to the plans many pharmacy operators are making for 2014. As emphasized by Mark Walchirk, president of McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical, at last week’s McKesson ideaShare 2013 conference, a larger population participating in health care courtesy of healthcare reform does more than drive incremental prescription growth — it helps drive outcomes-based medicine. Community pharmacy is well positioned to drive healthcare savings by ensuring patients stay adherent and compliant with their therapies, he said. “Just small increases in adherence and compliance with medications can drive significant growth in the marketplace."

“Today’s delay is an admission that ObamaCare is not working," noted Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., who last week introduced the Small Business Job Protection Act, H.R. 2577 to provide relief for small businesses from the penalties associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. That legislation is supported by many retailers, including the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Associaton. 

Specifically, the Messer legislation seeks to re-designate a “large employer” for purposes of the employer mandate tax threshold as one with 100 or more full-time equivalent employees, instead of those with 50 or more under current law. The Congressional Budget Office had estimated that penalty payments imposed on businesses that fail to meet this mandate would amount to $130 billion over the next decade. 

“These penalties already are forcing employers to reduce the hours worked by some employees,” noted Messer. “They also deter small businesses from expanding and creating jobs. That is bad for workers, bad for small business owners and bad for our economy. In these tough times, we should be encouraging job growth, not discouraging new jobs with costly new taxes, penalties and regulations."

“Washington needs to focus more attention on the needs of America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs rather than placing additional burdens, mandates and regulations on them," commented David French, NRF SVP government relations, following the introduction of Messer’s bill. “Expanding the definition of a ‘large employer’ to 100 employees would protect a wider range of small businesses and retailers and allow them to grow and hire more workers. An employer should never have to choose between hiring an additional employee or paying a penalty."

Whether Messer’s legislation gains traction in Congress, mid-size and larger employers will enjoy a reprieve from the insurance penalty until 2015. 


Are you a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant? Join our Facebook group to get all the latest news dedicated to delivering healthcare services to patients in retail pharmacy clinics.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

News

Former interior secretary Kenneth Salazar appointed to Target’s board

BY Alaric DeArment

MINNEAPOLIS — Target Corp. has appointed a former secretary of the interior and senator to its board of directors, the mass merchandise retailer said.

Target announced the appointment of Kenneth Salazar to its board. Salazar, who recently began working for the law firm WilmerHale, served as a Democratic member of the Senate from Colorado from 2005 to 2009 and as interior secretary under the Obama administration from 2009 until earlier this year, when he was replaced by Sally Jewell. His appointment to Target’s board is effective immediately.

"As an experienced public policy official and highly skilled lawyer, Ken brings a unique background and perspective to Target that will be invaluable as we continue to explore and seize new opportunities to drive profitable growth in this rapidly changing environment."


Are you a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant? Join our Facebook group to get all the latest news dedicated to delivering healthcare services to patients in retail pharmacy clinics.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES

News

Walgreens posts a 2.3% lift in June comp sales and a 2.5% sales increase overall

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday posted June sales of $5.8 billion, an increase of 2.5% from the same month in fiscal 2012.

June pharmacy sales increased by 2.9%, while comparable store pharmacy sales increased 3.3% and increased by a calendar day-shift adjusted 560 basis points. This year’s June had one additional Sunday and one fewer Friday compared with June 2012, Walgreens reported. Calendar day-shift adjusted comparable store pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by 280 basis points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months. 

Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased by 5% in June and increased 7.3% on a calendar day-shift adjusted basis. Calendar shifts negatively impacted prescriptions filled at comparable stores by 230 basis points.

Pharmacy sales accounted for 64.3% of total sales for the month.

Total front-end sales increased 2.2%, while comparable store front-end sales increased 0.8%. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 2.9% while basket size increased 3.7%.

Sales in comparable stores increased by 2.3% in June. Calendar day shifts negatively impacted total comparable sales by 150 basis points, while generic drug introductions in the last 12 months negatively impacted total comparable sales by 180 basis points.

Registrations for Walgreens Balance Rewards loyalty program, which launched in September, totaled more than 75 million through June.

Calendar 2013 sales to date were $35.9 billion, an increase of 2.4%.

Walgreens opened 10 stores during June, including four relocations, and closed four.


Are you a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant? Join our Facebook group to get all the latest news dedicated to delivering healthcare services to patients in retail pharmacy clinics.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

TRENDING STORIES