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CMS sees ‘stable path’ for Medicare Advantage in 2014

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Next year, for the first time since Medicare Part D’s inception, the deductible for the defined standard plan will be lower than in previous years, as healthcare spending across the country has been growing, with Medicare spending per beneficiary at 0.4% in 2012.

Amid these trends, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued its 2014 rate announcement and final call letter for the Medicare Advantage and Part D programs. The CMS said the announcements would set a stable path for Medicare Advantage and implement a number of policies designed to improve payment accuracy.

"The policies announced today further the agency’s goal of improving payment accuracy in all our programs, while at the same time ensuring program stability and preserving beneficiary choice," CMS acting principal deputy administrator Jonathan Blum said. Medicare Advantage enrollment has increased by 25% while premiums have fallen since the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the CMS said.

Key changes and updates in the rate announcement and call letter include lower out-of-pocket drug spending; greater protection for beneficiaries; payments to plans; an improved risk adjustment model; and improved coordination of care.

 

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Washington Post: Tea sales boon for consumer health and supermarket sales

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON — The Washington Post this week took an in-depth look at the health benefits of tea and how consumers are taking notice. And that’s a good thing for specialty tea shops and supermarket chains.

As the report notes, "Nationally, tea purchases have risen for 20 consecutive years, annual supermarket sales have surpassed $2.2 billion, and away-from home consumption of tea has grown by at least 10% a year for a decade," that according to the Tea Association of the USA.

The report cites five classifications for tea: black, white, green, oolong and puerh, and notes experts believe all provide health benefits. "Many scientists link health benefits to tea’s polyphenol antioxidants, which protect against oxidative stress, but others say they don’t know exactly which chemicals or combinations of chemicals in tea produce the benefits. [Thomas G. Sherman, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Georgetown University Medical Center,] for example, said there’s no evidence connecting tea’s antioxidants to beneficial effects, and he pointed to a study showing that black tea reduces LDL, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol without affecting antioxidant levels, suggesting something else in tea is causing this."

“We don’t clearly understand why tea is so beneficial, but we know it is,” said Sherman, as quoted by the Washington Post. “There are lots of epidemiological studies, and so of course people see these studies and want to drink tea and gain these benefits.”

To read the full article, click here.


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Fujifilm says Walmart vendor award recognizes manufacturing, quality, distribution

BY Alaric DeArment

VALHALLA, N.Y. — Walmart has given Fujifilm North America its "Vendor of the Year" award for its photo-finishing services in the mass-merchandise retailer’s stores, Fujifilm said.

The company, a division of Japan-based Fujifilm, said it received the award in the photo-finishing category at Walmart’s Supplier Summit in Orlando, Fla., last month. Fujifilm said the award recognized its manufacturing, quality and distribution capabilities.

"We are honored to receive this award from Walmart since it recognizes our commitment to exceed the expectations of our business partners," Fujifilm North America Corp. electronic imaging division VP sales and marketing Joseph Vaughey said. "This achievement is only possible through the hard work of our dedicated national account team, supply chain managers and analysts who provide the consistent knowledge and support we need to deliver on our promise to Walmart every day."

 

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