Safeway increases quarterly dividend by 14%
PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway on Tuesday announced that its board of directors approved an increase to its regular quarterly cash dividend from $0.175 per share to $0.20 per share, reflecting a 14% increase.
The board also declared a cash dividend of $0.20 per share payable on July 11, 2013 to stockholders of record at the close of business on June 20, 2013.
Convenient care health professionals gather for 2013 RCEC
LAS VEGAS — Healthcare professionals working within the growing field of convenient care convened here Tuesday for the sixth annual Retail Clinician Education Congress, a three-day educational and networking forum that is accredited for both nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
The 2013 RCEC conference, which is hosted by Drug Store News Group in conjunction with the Convenient Care Association and Partners in Healthcare Education, is being held at the Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas. It runs from May 14 to May 16.
The event kicked off Tuesday morning with a breakfast and Product Theatre presentation presented by Teva Respiratory. Speaking at the presentation, which is new to this year’s RCEC agenda, was Judith Newell, family nurse practitioner with the Pulmonary Associates in Phoenix. Newell spoke on the advances in exercise-induced bronchospasms and the therapeutic considerations.
Also new to this year’s RCEC agenda is a poster session program, which not only represents an important opportunity for healthcare providers to share research, programs and results with their peers but it also increases the number of CE credits that clinicians can earn at RCEC. Attendees can also mingle with the authors to learn more about their poster presentations during the Meet the Author events. The posters cover such topics as weight management and infectious diseases.
(Posters in Poster Session Program will remain on display throughout the conference)
This year’s event once again features, in addition to a track that is accredited for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, the Executive and Health Systems Leadership Colloquium. The executive track is designed for management, upper management and C-level executives of retail clinic operators, and companies and organizations interested in entering the retail clinic industry.
Tuesday’s executive track, supported by Athenahealth, kicked off with a session titled, “Healthcare Reform: The Role of Retail Clinics Meeting ACA Requirements Surrounding Quality and Preventative Care.” Speakers included Web Golinkin of RediClinic, Eileen Myers of The Little Clinic, Cynthia Stamper Graff of Lindora and Alan London of Take Care Health Systems. Each talked about different programs within their clinic operations, what works best and why, and how other clinic operators can offer such services.
For example, Golinkin talked about the success of RediClinic’s 10-week weight/lifestyle management program called Weigh Forward.
(Web Golinkin of RediClinic speaking at the Executive and Health Systems Leadership Colloquium)
“This is as much a lifestyle management program as it is a weight management program and parenthetically it is also a platform that we are using as the foundation for disease management programs,” Golinkin told attendees. “We firmly believe that this combination of brief visits with a clinician, combined with access to a technology platform both for the clinician and the patient, is the way you maximize impact and minimize cost.”
London discussed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its impact on the U.S. healthcare system and also how Take Care Clinics are expanding their scope of services.
“It is a perfect storm. We have, I really believe, a once-in-a-career opportunity … to be at a point where we can actually change the way health care is delivered and financed,” London told attendees. “… You all are at the front end of that change in a very exciting time, but we have to be able to prove we can do this. So, over the next few years we have to prove that we can expand and consistently provide care all across the country, that we can improve access, that we can improve outcomes, we can improve care coordination with the physicians. And if we do that, we will become an indispensable segment of the healthcare delivery system.”
Additional executive tracks held throughout the first half of the day included “What the Future Holds: Building the Workforce” and “Strategic Partnerships and the Building of the Business Model.”
Senators call for oversight on preferred pharmacy networks
WASHINGTON — Medicare Part D plans that create tiered networks of pharmacies for beneficiaries need more oversight amid reports that small and medium-sized pharmacies are being excluded from them, several senators wrote in a letter last week to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The letter, addressed to acting CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner, said that exclusion from the networks meant that the pharmacies were unable to offer comparable costs for seniors to fill prescriptions, raised concerns that the networks could raise Medicare Part D costs and adversely affect beneficiaries’ access to pharmacies, especially in rural areas. CMS is in the process of reviewing Medicare plans for 2014 approval.
"Please review the agency’s plans to ensure preferred networks are implemented in a manner that is consistent with the Medicare Modernization Act," the senators wrote in the letter. "We respectfully request that you inform us of your findings, and of steps that have been put in place to ensure Medicare plans using preferred networks are providing high quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries while maintaining access to prescription drugs and not increasing overall Medicare costs."
Under preferred networks, most pharmacies can participate as "network" pharmacies in order to satisfy Medicare’s geographic access requirements, but only some may participate as a "preferred" pharmacy that can offer the plan’s lowest advertised co-pays, and most plans do not allow independents to participate as preferred pharmacies.
“Momentum continues to build within CMS itself and on Capitol Hill behind the need for increased oversight and scrutiny of preferred networks in Medicare Part D, and we appreciate the work of legislators and agency officials alike who are keeping their eye on the ball of meeting beneficiary needs,” National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson and National Community Pharmacists Association CEO B. Douglas Hoey said in a joint statement.
In March, 31 members of the House of Representatives — including many representing rural areas in states like West Virginia and Montana — wrote to CMS expressing concern from Medicare beneficiaries and small business owners about Medicare Part D plans featuring preferred networks. Pembroke Consulting president Adam Fein wrote in October that he expected such networks to "make a big splash" in 2013.
Meanwhile, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a trade group representing the pharmacy benefit manager industry, has defended the networks, saying they lower costs, citing data from CMS.
The signatories to the recent letter were Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; John Thune, R-S.D.; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Michael Enzi, R-Wyo.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; James Inhofe, R-Okla.; Tim Johnson, D-S.D.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Jon Tester, D-Mont.; and Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
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