PHARMACY

Panel: Take Care Health Systems synergizes savings across health management

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON — Employee wellness experts from Babcock & Wilcox, Caesars Entertainment and others spoke to the synergies that such a company as Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems can create across their health management strategies during a panel discussion here last week at the National Conference on Health, Productivity and Human Capital hosted by the National Business Group on Health.

Representing businesses that collectively employ more than 120,000 workers, the panelists discussed a number of emerging themes in employer-sponsored health care, including:

  • Investing in proactive and preventive care for employees to improve the health of employees while mitigating the trend of rising employer healthcare costs;

  • Utilizing workplace-based health centers to effectively prevent and treat such chronic diseases as hypertension and diabetes before they pose significant and costly health risks to employees; and

  • Designing benefits to incentivize employees to use such high-quality and affordable care options as retail clinics, as well as health systems and healthcare providers with proven track records of achieving exceptional patient outcomes.

“At B&W, our wellness strategy offers comprehensive and convenient health services to our workforce while at the same time reducing our costs,” stated Daniel Helman, B&W corporate director, environmental, health and safety. “By prioritizing the health of our employees, we’ve done right by our business and, even more importantly, we’ve done right by the tens of thousands of B&W team members who depend on us for access to tools that will allow them to be and stay well.”

B&W wellness strategy incorporates benefit design, health education and worksite health centers managed by Take Care Health Systems. Investments in employee health and wellness have yielded significant return, the company stated, effectively reversing the trend of rising healthcare spend. Health management programs at Caesars Entertainment and other Take Care clients also have yielded significant financial and health outcome-based results, according to the panelists.

“From small and mid-sized companies to the nation’s largest employers, businesses are weighing rising health and pharmacy costs with a desire to best meet the needs of their employees,” commented Paul VanDeventer, Walgreens divisional VP and host of the panel discussion. “Through our network of workplace health centers, community pharmacies, retail clinics and other healthcare assets, Walgreens is working to make sure employers don’t need to choose between the health of their workforce and the health of their bottom line. Our relationships with healthcare innovators such as B&W and Caesars bring new ideas and best practices to the forefront.” 

Walgreens, through its subsidiary Take Care Health Systems, currently manages more than 350 workplace-based health centers with companies across the country.


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PHARMACY

NCPA: Independent pharmacy can benefit health insurance exchanges

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Monday touted the benefits community pharmacies can provide for health insurance exchanges once those exchange open in 2014 in a letter addressed to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Federal and state officials from both parties are making considerable efforts now to make certain that patients will have access to affordable, quality medical coverage when health insurance exchanges open in 2014,” stated NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. “The services of community pharmacists, such as expert medication counseling, are critical to improving patient outcomes and reducing costs in these plans, as well as those outside of the exchanges.”

NCPA’s comments to HHS included the following recommendations:

  • HHS should adopt the Department of Defense/TRICARE standard for pharmacy access in plans offered through the state exchanges. That minimum standard sets forth an adjusted scale for pharmacy access in urban, suburban and rural communities (e.g., at least 70% of beneficiaries in rural areas on average must live within 15 miles of a participating retail pharmacy);

  • To further ensure access, plans also should consider, where appropriate, designating community pharmacies in low-income, underserved areas as “essential community providers”;

  • To maximize the cost-savings from pharmacy benefit manager disclosure requirements, HHS should issue guidance so health plans get an accurate grasp of the complex, multifaceted revenue streams of PBMs;

  • Specifically as it relates to payments to PBMs by manufacturers and other entities, NCPA suggests a definition of “indirect compensation” to reflect revenue retained by PBMs in addition to rebates; and

  • Adopt a more transparent process for evaluating proposed changes to plans in the health exchanges than the state plan amendment process currently employed in Medicaid. For example, proposed changes could be publicly disclosed in advance of HHS’ ruling on them.

To view the letter in its entirety, click here.

 


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Pharmacy coalition to oppose Express Scripts/Medco merger from the Hill

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! coalition will be traveling to the nation’s capital on Thursday to urge Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to support patient care and oppose the planned merger between Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, the coalition announced Monday.

While in town, the group will host a press conference outside of the Capitol and attend meetings with policy-makers. Reps. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.; Thomas Marino, R-Pa.; and Eva Clayton (retired) will join Douglas Hoey, National Community Pharmacists Association CEO; Dennis Archer, PCPAN chief legal counsel; and Mike Brandt, owner of Globe Drug and Medical Equipment in making remarks at the press conference.
 
The PCPA NOW! coalition argues that the merger will create a consolidated pharmacy benefit manager with excessive control over the health care of tens of millions of Americans that will lead to higher prices for a lower quality of health care. The PCPA NOW! coalition hopes to educate consumers, policy-makers and others on the negative impact of approving the merger, in an effort to stop it from moving forward.


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