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BitPay reports $100 million in transactions in 2013

BY Alaric DeArment

ATLANTA — A company that allows merchants to use bitcoin has seen a spike in transactions this year.

BitPay said Wednesday that it had processed more than $100 million in transactions this year, and that its membership now included more than 15,500 merchants in 200 countries. The number of merchants has increased by more than 50%, while transaction volume has tripled since the creation of the All Inclusive Pricing Plan in October and the integration with Shopify in November.

The digital currency’s rise, covered by DSN last month, has lately attracted significant attention from brick and mortar and online merchants and investors. But many experts remain skeptical as to whether it is viable as a currency due to its extreme volatility, marked by tremendous growth in its price followed by a catastrophic fall whenever there’s bad news about it. Recent events like the Central Bank of China’s decision to forbid its use by financial companies and the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, who allegedly operated the online drug marketplace Silk Road, have caused large crashes in its value, and security issues have led to millions of dollars in bitcoins being stolen by hackers. One bitcoin was worth about $880 in mid-afternoon trading Wednesday, according to the online exchange Mt. Gox.

 

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Mont. Albertsons store opens retail clinic

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — An Albertsons store in Billings, Mont., is home to a retail clinic staffed by physician assistants and nurse practitioners who will treat patients for allergies, infections, bug bites, pain and other minor health problems, according to published reports.

The Billings Gazette reported that Billings Clinic opened at Albertsons its first retail clinic, called ExpressCare. Additional clinics are planned for spring and summer next year. The clinic is staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Services provided at the clinic will range in cost from $25 to $70, and it will accept most major insurance plans. Patients can use smart phones and tablets to reserve appointment times in addition to walking in.  

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Lawsuit challenges Calif. Medicaid reimbursement cuts

BY Alaric DeArment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Reimbursement cuts to California’s state Medicaid program are the subject of a lawsuit filed last week in San Francisco.

The Professional Pharmacy Alliance and the California Korean American Pharmacists Association filed suit against the California Department of Health Care Services in San Francisco Superior Court over an across-the-board 10% cut in 2011 to the reimbursement rates for most providers under the program, known as Medi-Cal.

"We are pleased to see that other pharmacy organizations are as concerned as we are about the patients who will ultimately be denied access to their medications," California Pharmacists Association CEO Jon Roth said; the CPhA is among organizations supporting the lawsuit. "We have attempted to work with the state for several years to bring long-term solutions to these issues without disrupting the provider network, but DHCS has stayed the course toward implementing these devastating cuts on Jan. 9, 2014. Unfortunately, it appears that the only thing DHCS responds to these days is a lawsuit."

According to the lawsuit, the cuts violate state laws and would result in many rural and minority patients being denied access to medications. The CPhA raised similar concerns earlier this year with the DHCS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, citing in letters multiple examples of the DHCS admitting to the CMS that the cuts would violate federal Medicaid access-to-care laws.

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