PHARMACY

CMS: Premiums may rise in 2010

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Medicare beneficiaries will see premiums get a little bigger next year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last week.

CMS estimated that the average monthly premium that beneficiaries pay for standard Part D coverage in 2010 will be $30, compared with $28 this year. The agency said the change was not significant, but that some beneficiaries may need to ensure they have coverage when open enrollment begins later this year.

“The majority of beneficiaries enrolled in prescription drug plans should see only small changes in their Part D premiums or benefits in the coming year,” CMS Center for Health Plan Choices acting director Jonathan Blum said in a statement. “Although most Part D plans should have relatively stable premiums, all beneficiaries should compare their current coverage with the plans that will be offered in 2010 when information becomes available in October.”

Some low-income beneficiaries who receive a subsidiary for their premiums may have to move to a new plan to ensure they remain in a zero-premium plan next because the premium will be higher than the subsidy amount, the agency said.

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Report: PhRMA backs healthcare reform

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Most of the groups supporting President Obama’s healthcare reform plan have been patient advocates such as AARP, but the effort recently got some help from a different and traditionally conservative source: the drug industry.

Advertising Age reported Thursday that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the largest trade group for the brand drug industry, will set aside $150 million for an advertising campaign in support of healthcare reform, including TV ads in 12 key states, as well as radio and print ads. An executive from PhRMA told the advertising industry trade magazine that the ads would focus on ensuring that everyone has access to health insurance, including affordable co-payments and no denials based on pre-existing conditions.

The healthcare reform debate has turned contentious in recent weeks, with townhall meetings across the country disrupted by loud protests from opponents of reform who think it will harm healthcare more than it helps and will damage the economy.

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QuikTrip opens second clinic for employees

BY Antoinette Alexander

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Convenience store operator QuikTrip Corp. has opened its second worksite health clinic for its employees in the Kansas City area, according to a local news report.

QuikTrip, which operates more than 500 convenience stores, opened its first worksite clinic two years ago at its headquarters in Tulsa, Okla.

The new 1,400-sq.-ft. Belton clinic is administered by Care ATC, a national provider of on-site medical clinics, and provides free services to the nearly 800 QuikTrip employees and their dependents in that area, the report stated.

The facility provides the same services as a primary care physician’s office and is staffed by a board-certified physician and others who are employees of Care ATC.

As previously reported by Drug Store News, worksite clinics are on the rise as employers increasingly look for ways to lower healthcare costs and bolster employee productivity.

It is estimated by Fuld & Company that there are some 1,200 firms currently operating on-site clinics, which, taking into account their multiple campuses and multiple clinics, results in an estimated 2,200 on-site clinics. That number could reach 7,000 by 2015.

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