Anderson decries ‘backward’ budgeting; urges focus on preventive-care benefits
ANAHEIM, Calif. The services pharmacists perform and the pharmaceuticals they dispense can save the health system real money, but antiquated government accounting methods that focus on short-term savings are preventing the nation from reaping larger long-term cost benefits, the head of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores said today.
Addressing the California Pharmacists Association, NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson urged pharmacy advocates to make the case that pharmacies can offer cost-savings through preventive care. He decried the “backward counting” methods that now dominate federal and state budget-making and called on policymakers to focus on the long-term savings that better patient care and pharmacists’ interventions can bring – even if it means spending more in upfront costs for such programs.
“Every proposed policy is evaluated for its likely costs or savings,” Anderson said. “But the current rules do not take into consideration savings or costs beyond the obvious.
“For example, if a policy will reduce the payments for prescriptions from a government program, that is considered a savings. But the rules do not take into consideration the long-term effects that can result if this policy change prevents a patient from taking necessary medications. I call this ‘backward counting.’”
Anderson pointed out the many initiatives conducted by pharmacies, in coordination with other health entities and public or private health plan sponsors, to lower costs and improve outcomes for patients, especially those with chronic disease. However, he said, the upfront investments required for such initiatives have often discouraged government health programs from reaping the benefits of pharmacy care.
“The government needs to make progress in reforming the budget rules,” asserted NACDS’ top executive. “This is more than an academic exercise. These rules serve as the gatekeepers for new policy in virtually every aspect of people’s lives, including healthcare.”
Anderson spoke in advance of a hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance next Wednesday, focusing on budget options for calculating the costs of healthcare reform proposals. In his speech to California pharmacists, he expressed optimism that Congressional leaders would reject shortsighted proposals budget savings proposals and look at long-term costs and benefits.
“We know one thing for sure: nobody is going to make this case for us,” he said. “We have to do it ourselves.”
Study shows quick workouts help improve insulin sensitivity
LONDON A study published earlier this week in the online journal BMC Endocrine Disorders found that less than eight minutes per week of high-intensity exercise substantially improved insulin sensitivity in healthy, sedentary people.
The study involved 16 young men who performed two weeks of high-intensity interval training. Study participants were given an oral glucose test before and after the two-week training period. In the later test, the amount of time the men’s blood sugar and blood insulin levels were above normal was reduced by 12% and 37%, respectively.
“This novel time-efficient training paradigm can be used as a strategy to reduce metabolic risk factors in young and middle aged sedentary populations who otherwise would not adhere to time consuming traditional aerobic exercise regimes,” the authors concluded.
CDC: Young people face multiple health challenges
ATLANTA Increases in obesity, higher injury rates and lack of health insurance are just three of the challenges that young adults aged 18 to 29 in the United States face, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report, “Health, United States: 2008,” is the 32nd edition of the annual report, prepared by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Highlights of the report, which includes a special section on young adults, include:
- Obesity rates have tripled, to 24%, between the periods between the early 1970s and 2006
- Smoking rates among young women declined between 1997 and 2006 by nearly 20%, but not among young men; in 2006, 29% of young men were smokers
- In 2005, accidental injuries, homicide and suicide accounted for 70% of deaths among young adults
- Between 1999 and 2004, nearly 9% of those aged 20 to 29 reported depression, anxiety disorder or panic disorder in the past 12 months
- In 2006, 34% of those aged 20 to 24 lacked insurance, compared to 21% of 18- and 19-year-olds and 29% of those aged 25 to 29
- Between 2004 and 2006, 17% of those in the 18-29 group reported needing but not receiving medical care, prescription medicines, mental health care or eyeglasses due to lack of money
The report also revealed a number of trends among older adults.
- In 2006, life expectancies for men and women were 3.6 years and 1.9 years higher than in 1990, respectively, due to declines in death rates from heart disease, stroke and cancer
- Between 2003 and 2006, 65% of men and 80% of women 75 and older had high blood pressure or were taking medication to treat it, compared to 36% of adults aged 45 to 54
- Increased use of cholesterol-lowering drugs had partially contributed to a decline in the percentage of the population with high cholesterol
- About 25% of adults 60 and older had diabetes between 2003 and 2006
- Obesity rates remain high, but are not increasing as rapidly as before; more than a third of adults 20 and older were obese in 2005 and 2006