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AANP urges legislators to follow FTC lead against practice restrictions

BY Antoinette Alexander

AUSTIN, Texas — The American Association of Nurse Practitioners, a national professional membership organization for nurse practitioners of all specialties, is calling on state lawmakers to consider the consequences of undue restrictions on APRNs, or nurse practitioners, as recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.

On March 7, the FTC released a policy paper that states, "limiting the range of services APRNs may provide and the extent to which they can practice independently … may reduce competition that benefits consumers." The Commission goes on to recommend that state legislators exercise caution when evaluating proposals that would limit nurse practitioner practice and direct patient access to nurse practitioner services.

The paper, “Policy Perspectives: Competition and the Regulation of Advanced Practice Nurses,” is part of the FTC’s ongoing work to protect consumer choice and competition in the healthcare marketplace.

AANP points to the paper as a valuable new resource for legislators weighing the impact of state licensure laws on patient populations.
"Like the FTC, we believe that competition among healthcare providers results in greater access, lower costs and quality improvement," said Kenneth Miller, co-president of AANP. "Full patient access to high-quality nurse practitioner services is essential for making such competition a reality."

"State legislation that prevents full and direct access for patients has the potential to further hamper our healthcare delivery system," said Angela K. Golden, co-president of AANP. "It is our hope that legislators pay close attention to the analysis of the FTC and honor the health care needs of their constituents."

The FTC paper included additional statements in support of nurse practitioners, such as:

  • Research demonstrates that nurse practitioners provide safe and effective care;
  • Nurse practitioners might help alleviate health care access problems across the United States if undue regulatory burdens on their practice are reduced;
  • Effective collaboration among healthcare providers, including team-based care, does not always require physician supervision of nurse practitioners; and
  • Fewer restrictions on nurse practitioners would be good for competition and America’s health care consumers.

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Dollar General sees Q4 sales increase of 6.8%

BY Mike Troy

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. — An unrelenting Dollar General continues to push forward with plans to open 700 stores this year despite reporting weak financial results and a 1.3% same-store sales increase for the fourth quarter.

Sales during Dollar General’s fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, increased 6.8% to nearly $4.5 billion and were driven mainly by the addition of new locations as same-store sales increased just 1.3%. The comp increase was due to growth in customer traffic and average transaction amount with tobacco and perishables singled out as key contributors, according to the company. However, growth in those categories negatively affected the company’s gross margins as did an increase in the shrink rate, which caused gross margins to decline to 31.9% from 32.5%. Expenses were essentially flat with the prior year at 20% of sales.

Profits in the fourth quarter increased 1.6% to $322 million or $1.01 a share, compared to a profit of $317 million, or 97 cents a share, in the fourth quarter the prior year.

“Sales in the fourth quarter were impacted by severe winter weather, including many days with significant store closures, an aggressive competitive retail landscape and our customers’ uncertainty about spending in the current economic environment,” Dollar General chairman and CEO Rick Dreiling said. “In spite of these headwinds, both customer traffic and average ticket increased in our same-stores in the fourth quarter. In addition, we controlled our expenses well and successfully managed the business to deliver a gross margin rate that was better than we anticipated. Although some of the severe weather impact has continued into the first quarter, we are pleased with our sales performance on days when weather is more normalized.”

The impact of weather can be seen in Dollar General’s expectation for a first quarter same-store sales increase in the range of 2% to 3%, compared to a 2.6% comp increase in the first quarter of 2013. For the full year, the company expects sales to increase in the range of 8% to 9% and same store sales to rise between 3% and 4%, which implies an acceleration of comp growth later in the year. Earnings per share are expected to range from $3.45 a share to $3.55.

The key contributor to those results will be the company’s breakneck pace of expansion which calls for 700 new stores as part of a $450 million to $500 million capital expenditure program. The new store construction program, the most ambitious in the retail industry, follows a record year of square footage expansion in 2013.

“Among our other many accomplishments for the year, we successfully opened 650 new stores, ending the year with 11,132 stores serving customers in 40 states,” Dreiling said. “Dollar General is a strong and growing business with high return store growth opportunities that we intend to capture. While we remain cautious on the current operating environment and the many challenges our customer is facing in 2014, we have a business model that generates significant cash flow, putting us in a position to invest in these growth opportunities, while continuing to return cash to shareholders through share repurchases.”

Dollar General will come close to surpassing $20 billion in annual sales this year if its same-store sales and expansion goals are realized. Last year, the company’s sales increased 9.2% to $17.5 billion from $16 billion and full-year same-store sales increased 3.3%. As in the fourth quarter, those results were driven by an increase in customer traffic and average transaction size and strength in categories such as tobacco, perishables, candy and snacks.

 

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Bayer HealthCare launches new flea and tick treatments

BY Ryan Chavis

ORLANDO, Fla. — Bayer HealthCare LLC Animal Health division on Wednesday launched eight flea and tick treatments and control solutions, which are to be sold at pet specialty retail stores. The announcement was made at Global Pet Expo, the pet industry’s largest annual trade show.

Four of the new products — Advantage Treatment Spray for dogs, Advantage Treatment Spray for cats, Advantage Treatment Shampoo for dogs and Advantage Treatment Shampoo for cats — aim to give pet owners an array of options for pest treatment.

Bayer’s new Advantage Household Spot and Crevice Spray, Advantage Carpet and Upholstery Spot Spray and Advantage Household Fogger kill indicated pests in the home, according to the company. Advantage Yard and Premise Spray kills pests in the yard and around the house.

"At Bayer, we know how much pet owners love their dogs and cats and that includes helping protect them against fleas and ticks," said Dave Van Brunt, VP, companion animal products marketing, Bayer HealthCare LLC Animal Health division, North America. "Bayer’s new flea and tick treatment and control products, coupled with Bayer’s existing product line, provide dog or cat owners with an integrated approach to treating pests on their pet and in their home and yard."

Bayer also introduced Bayer Pest Solution Center, a display in pet specialty retail stores that educates owners about pest prevention so they can choose the appropriate Bayer flea and tick product to meet the needs of their pets. Bayer also is supporting pet specialty retailers with training modules and toolkits for employees that will allow them to better help customers.

"Not all pet owners understand the importance of preventing pests on their dog or cat until they have a problem," said Paris Revoir, DVM, pet specialty national training manager, Bayer HealthCare LLC Animal Health division. "The Bayer Pest Solution Center organizes our full range of pet, home and yard products so that consumers can easily find the Bayer flea or tick solutions that best suit their needs."

 

 

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