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WellPoint, Rite Aid collaborate to inform Medicare beneficiaries on enrollment

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. WellPoint and Rite Aid Thursday morning announced a collaborative effort to make health care information more accessible to seniors and other Medicare eligible individuals during the Medicare open enrollment period.

The alliance, which will encompass more than 5,100 Rite Aid pharmacy stores nationwide in 31 states and the District of Columbia, reflects the commitment of both companies to provide Medicare beneficiaries with clear, comprehensive materials to help them make the best health coverage choices for themselves and their families.

Through this alliance, printed materials will be available at Rite Aid stores nationwide to help inform seniors about WellPoint’s Medicare Part D plans. During the Annual Election Period, also known as open enrollment, agents from WellPoint affiliated companies will be on location at specific stores on certain days to answer questions and explain benefit options. The open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries begins Nov. 15 and ends Dec. 31.

“We understand that making health benefits choices can be complex and confusing,” stated Susan Rawlings, president of WellPoint’s Senior Business. “This alliance with Rite Aid allows us to reach out to seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries in a way that is convenient for them to help them find the best plan to meet their health needs and enable them to live the most fulfilling lives possible.”

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World Diabetes Day marked by call for international action

BY Drew Buono

NEW YORK Today marks the inaugural United Nations World Diabetes Day, organized by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization. As part of the new global movement towards diabetes care and prevention, the Global Partnership for Effective Diabetes Management, a taskforce of international diabetes experts committed to treating Type 2 diabetes, has issued a new publication titled: U.N. Resolution on Diabetes—“Time to put fine words into action”. In the publication, the partnership urges national governments, the general population and the global diabetes community to take action and share the responsibility in the global fight against diabetes.

The major concern for the United Nations as well as the global partnership is the staggering amount of people diagnosed with diabetes around the world and the number that expects predict it will rise to by 2025.

Worldwide, diabetes currently affects 246 million people. By 2025, it is expected to affect almost 400 million and the WHO estimates increases in diabetes rates will occur in developing countries because of population growth, ageing, unhealthy diets, obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Further, WHO estimates that in 2025, most people with diabetes in developed countries will be aged 65 years or older, while in developing countries most people aged 35 to 64 will be affected in their most productive years. The IDF predicts that in this same time frame, the largest prevalence of diabetes will be in developing countries.

The global partnership has provided some actions to be taken in order to increase diabetes awareness and care around the globe: diabetes should be prioritized as a public health initiative. Collaborative efforts between global and regional diabetes associations and governments enable improved, earlier and more intensive diabetes care with improved outcomes. Non-governmental organizations can be an important third pillar supporting the foundation for a change in diabetes care.

The new publication appears in the December issue of the International Journal of Clinical Practice and is currently available online at the journal’s Web site at www.blackwell-synergy.com.

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Wal-Mart Foundation awards Meharry Medical College $1 million for women’s health research

BY Adam Kraemer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Wal-Mart Foundation Tuesday announced it was awarding a five-year, $1 million grant to the Meharry Medical College Center for Women’s Health Research.

The center, the only one in the U.S. dedicated to the study of health disparities among women of color, will use the grant to address diseases that disproportionately impact women from ethnic minorities, especially African-American women. “The Meharry Medical College Center for Women’s Health Research is leading the way in understanding the health disparities faced by women of color and how those disparities can be eradicated,” said Linda Dillman, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of Risk Management, Benefits and Sustainability.

Current and upcoming research and studies at the center focus on reproductive health, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and social and environmental factors in women’s health, including health care access and quality.

“We are especially pleased to have the philanthropic support of the Wal-Mart Foundation as it assists us in realizing our vision of eliminating healthcare disparities through education, research and patient care,” said Wayne Riley, president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College, accepting the check.

“Innovative research and clinical studies at the Center are giving us greater insight as to why women of color are more likely to develop certain diseases and how biology, race and economics contribute to disparities in women’s health care,” said Valerie Montgomery Rice, senior vice president for Health Affairs, dean of the School of Medicine and executive director at the center. “This grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation will allow us to expand that critical research and broaden our educational awareness programs and community participatory research efforts.” She is also an active member on Wal-Mart’s Health Insights Panel and its External Advisory Council.

In recent years, the company has been recognized by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest corporate cash contributor in America, giving more than $270 million to support its communities throughout the U.S. Other initiatives by the company in the area of women’s health include its partnership with Speaking of Women’s Health, which provides support for educational materials and events on women’s health, and the recent expansion of its affordable prescription program to include important women’s health medications.

“The generosity of the Wal-Mart Foundation exemplifies its recognition of the need in furthering the research at the Women’s Center,” said Tennessee state Senator Thelma Harper, who was present at the event. “This enormous contribution moves our efforts to another level. Our community is indeed grateful.”

Meharry Medical College is the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health center. More than 25 percent of all African-American dentists and physicians are educated and trained there, and is the number one producer of African-American biomedical scientists. More than 76 percent of Meharry Medical College alumni work in underserved communities across the nation.

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