HEALTH

Congress introduces legislation to include multis in SNAP benefits

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Earlier this week several Congress leaders introduced HR 3841, the SNAP Vitamin and Mineral Improvement Act of 2017, which allows for the inclusion of a multivitamin under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

“The introduction of this bill ensures that Americans of all socioeconomic statuses have the ability to add a multivitamin to their everyday routines to help them meet their basic nutritional needs," stated Mike Greene, SVP government relations, Council for Responsible Nutrition. "Studies show that low-income Americans are more likely to have insufficient and nutritionally inadequate diets. Research also demonstrates that Americans are falling short in a number of essential nutrients," he said. Allowing SNAP recipients to purchase a multivitamin with program benefits empowers them with an additional choice for themselves and their families, and makes achieving proper nutrition a right, not a luxury."

The bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and original cosponsors Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Mia Love, R-Utah, and Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif.  

Nearly 43 million Americans are on SNAP, according to USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, with each household receiving an average monthly benefit of approximately $253.

CRN will continue its efforts to help this bill gain momentum within Congress and attain increased support from both sides of the aisle, Greene noted.

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CDC kicks off annual flu shot drive

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joined the National Foundation for Infectious Disease, along with other public health and medical groups, on Thursday to kick off the 2017-18 flu vaccination campaign.

"While we don't know what this season has in store, the science on flu vaccination is clear," stated Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who recieved his flu shot during the press conference announcing the campaign. "Today, I am leading by example and getting vaccinated against flu. I urge everyone six months and older to do the same as soon as vaccine is available in their community."

Influenza vaccination coverage last year across the entire U.S. population was 46.8%, an increase of 1.2 percentage points from the previous season. That level of coverage meant that more than half of  the  U.S. population was unprotected against flu last season.

Among children 6 months through 17 years, coverage with one or more doses of flu vaccine was 59%, similar to the 2015–16 season (59.3%). Coverage was 43.3% among adults over the age of18 years, which was 1.6 percentage points higher than coverage during the 2015–16 season (41.7%).

"We are pleased to see that the decrease in vaccination coverage among adults age 50 years and older that we saw in the 2015-2016 season was not sustained during the 2016-2017 season," commented Kathleen Neuzil, director of the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "It is critical to maintain the hightest level of vaccination coverage for older adults because they are disproportionally affected by flu. Vaccination not only reduces chance that older adults will get the flu, it can also keep them out of the hospital by reducing the severity of the infection and related complications if they do get the flu."

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Ritzman broadens scope of ‘Ritzman Revives’ program

BY Michael Johnsen

MEDINA, Ohio —  As an answer to a dated, commoditized pharmacy experience, Ritzman Pharmacy is launching new products and services to better align with the actual role pharmacists play in the lives and wellness of patients with a series of comprehensive wellness assessments, the Ohio retailer announced Friday.

“Fifty years ago, the primary role of pharmacists was solely to dispense prescriptions. They were not permitted to discuss medications with patients and had to refer them back to their physicians when questions arose,” noted John Dimmick, Ritzman Pharmacist, noting that's no longer the case. “Our healthcare landscape and patients’ needs are changing, and pharmacists are no longer simply dispensing medication. Our pharmacists are also providing important wellness and healthcare services through innovative programs and services across our practice settings. Our purpose is to help people get, stay and live well [and] to transform them and the role community pharmacy plays in healthcare.”

Building on the already launched Ritzman Revives program, select Ritzman Pharmacy locations will offer comprehensive wellness assessments. The program will support customers in answering wellness questions, such as how can they get more energy or how can they lose weight.

Customers can come in anytime or schedule their free wellness assessment online. During that time, they will talk to a Ritzman pharmacist and review their current health and wellness habit as well as their markers of wellness, which will include: hydration, energy, blood pressure, heart rate, weight and blood glucose. Other wellness services include: The RefreshinQ Quotient System, Technology Bar Trainings, point of care testing and an employee wellness program.

The Ritzman Revives program begins with a series of workshops called "Dieting is dead: A better way to approach wellness." A Ritzman pharmacist and registered dietitian lead a discussion about wellness and the future of dieting, including new strategies for starting a wellness program of their own. These workshops are powered by The RefreshinQ Co. and presented in partnership with Erin Schenkenberger.

Attendees will receive coupons, free samples and light snacks.

“In our practices, pharmacists frequently field questions from patients about ways they can boost their energy levels or for help in achieving their wellness goals,” added Beth Husted, general manager pharmacy services, Ritzman. “As part of our mission, this program will individually educate patients on better wellness choices.”
 

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