CVS Caremark’s Brennan outlines employer healthcare options for 2014 to National Business Group on Health
BOSTON — If employers want to best manage the health and productivity of their employees, they need to continue company-sponsored health plans — that was a key message that Troyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, had for attendees at the National Business Group on Health’s annual meeting on Thursday.
The message comes in light of the fact that employers face a fundamental decision concerning employee healthcare benefits when health reform-required insurance exchanges take center stage in 2014: Should their companies continue employer-sponsored insurance plans or should they move employees to programs offered through public exchanges?
"The decision you make regarding how to manage your employees’ health care moving forward is important for your employees and your business," Brennan said. "Do you stay in the driver’s seat and proactively manage the health and productivity of your workforce, or do you climb into the back seat and take your chances?"
Brennan, a former professor of medicine, law and public health at Harvard University and who formerly served as president and CEO of Brigham and Women’s Physician Organization and chief medical officer of Aetna before joining CVS Caremark, brings extensive health system experience to the NBGH address.
He reviewed projections from six different analysts on the impact the recently passed Affordable Care Act will have on the healthcare market. That review included forecasts from the Congressional Budget Office, Rand Corp., Urban Institute, Goldman Sachs, the Lewin Group, Deutsche Bank and one developed for CVS Caremark. While all the independent projections forecasted the nation’s uninsured population will signficantly drop as a result of the healthcare-reform law, they were not conclusive as to the future of employee-sponsored health plans. Several projections forecasted market shrinkage of employee-sponsored health coverage, while others show slight growth.
The heart of the presentation was Brennan’s review of research looking at the successes and shortcomings of health-and-wellness programs in the workplace, and the impact those programs have on medical costs. Brennan said 25 years of peer-reviewed studies show inconsistent results. For example, recent research into healthcare savings resulting from aggressive smoking cessation and weight-loss programs showed employers realizing significant medical cost savings. One study looking at smoking cessation programs projected 10-year savings in excess of $7 billion. However, Brennan said other studies found less dramatic, sometimes mixed results when it comes to medical cost savings.
"I wish the literature was conclusive, but it is not," Brennan said. "What we know is that there are actions and programs that have had a direct impact on employee heath and productivity. It seems clear those of us in the healthcare industry have to be creative and diligent in developing and administering these programs, because absenteeism and productivity go to the bottom line," Brennan said.
"We found successful programs are run by companies where the leadership fully supports developing a healthy culture. The research shows employers need to use all the tools at their disposal — Web, telephone, incentives and face-to-face counseling — to encourage healthy individual behaviors. By aggressively managing employee benefits, we can achieve a healthy and productive workforce and lower medical costs," Brennan concluded.
Five years ago, CVS demonstrated its national leadership in healthcare through the acquisition of MinuteClinic and later Caremark. In light of Dr. Brennan's clinical leadership at Brigham and his thoughtful presentation to the NBGH, it has been surprising that CVS has not combined those innovations, brought its clinics and managed care expertise to the employer work site and connected both electronically to national medical centers of excellence, as Walgreens, Humana and others have been doing in the meantime to catch up and take the lead in moving toward 2014. Ron Hammerle Health Resources, Ltd. Tampa
RAD comps increase 2.9% in October
CAMP HILL, Pa. — Same-store sales at Rite Aid increased by 2.9% in October, compared with the same period last year, the retail pharmacy chain said Thursday.
The increase included a 1.3% increase in same-store sales on the front end, as well as a 3.6% increase in pharmacy same-store sales, including a negative offset of about 160 basis points due to the introduction of new generic drugs.
Total sales for the month were nearly $2 billion, a 2.8% increase over October 2010’s $1.9 billion.
For the first 34 weeks of the year, same-store sales increased 1.6% compared with the same period last year, including a 1.1% increase in front-end same-store sales and a 1.9% increase in pharmacy same-store sales.
Total sales for the year to date were $16.5 billion, a 1.1% increase over last the $16.3 billion in total sales during the same period last year.
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Cepia’s Xia-Xia line makes holiday season debut
ST. LOUIS — The maker of ZhuZhu Pets has introduced a new line of toys for this holiday season.
Cepia said Xia-Xia (pronounced "shah-shah") consists of four colorful, collectible hermit crabs that dance and play. The line also includes playsets and accessories, the company said.
"Kids love hermit crabs for a number of reasons, including their colorful shells, tropical habitats and cute crawls," Cepia CEO James Russell Hornsby said. "Xia-Xia gives children all these features, but adds unpredictability, collectability and silly fun that we hope kids will enjoy. Parents will love them too, as they are affordably priced."
Xia-Xia hermit crabs, playsets and accessories range in price from $5.99 to $19.99.
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