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Drug Store News’ Jay Forbes to speak at Mack Elevation conference

BY DSN STAFF

ELMHURST, Ill. Mack Elevation Forum, a strategic sales and consulting organization, will be facilitating an elite conference for top executives of smaller and mid-size CPG firms. The Elevation Forum conference is April 17th and will be facilitated by managing director Dan Mack prior to the NACDS Annual Conference in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Industry icon Jay Forbes will be speaking at the Elevation Forum and will share emerging industry insights helping executives thrive in the new economy. Jay has dedicated his professional career, spanning more than four decades, tracking the fortunes of the food, drug and mass market retailing sectors and the consumer goods manufacturing community. He is known for his strategic insights as VP and group publisher of Drug Store News and for the last decade as VP customer development for the Retail Group. Jay’s insightful first-hand industry observations and collaboration with the top national retailers provides a unique industry voice.  Dan Mack will also unveil a high-end sales architecture, which encourages organizations to move from transactional to strategic customer engagement. The sales framework, named the Elevation Model, is a system that teaches organizations to align with their customer’s boardroom priorities while uncovering and utilizing hidden corporate assets and influencers. The result is enhanced customer alignment, improved sales results and increased competitive insulation. You can get a glimpse of this model under the Elevation Model tab at www.mackelevationforum.com. Forum members will also have an opportunity to their own discuss business strategy, share industry insights and utilize peer advisory support within a team of noncompeting executives.  Mack Elevation Forum provides advisory support to sales organizations, helping them dramatically elevate their thinking and redesign their sales strategy, while driving sales productivity and alignment through a vibrant sales leadership forum and custom consulting. Executives interesting in learning more about the quarterly Elevation Forums or Mack Elevation Forum’s suite of services can call Managing Director Dan Mack at 630-279-9728.  

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Americans postponing health care due to economic crunch

BY Michael Johnsen

MENLO PARK, Calif. As economic conditions continue to worsen, the public is increasingly worried about the affordability and availability of care, with many postponing or skipping treatments due to cost in the past year and a notable minority forced into serious financial straits due to medical bills, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s first health care tracking poll of 2009, released today.

In the face of the country’s current economic challenges, the public’s support for health reform remains strong and their trust in President Obama to do the right thing in health care reform is high.

Slightly more than half (53%) of Americans say their household cut back on health care due to cost concerns in the past 12 months.  The most common actions reported are relying on home remedies and over-the-counter drugs rather than visiting a doctor (35%) or skipping dental care (34%).  Roughly one in four report putting off health care they needed (27%), one in five say they have not filled a prescription (21%), and one in six (15%) say they cut pills in half or skipped doses to make their prescription last longer. “Experts and policymakers have multiple agendas in health reform, but when half the public reports skimping on care because they can’t afford it, it’s very clear that what the public wants most from health reform is relief from health care costs,” stated Kaiser president and CEO Drew Altman. 

The 27% of the public that reported they had “put off or postponed getting health care [they] needed” were asked about the specific types of care they had foregone.  The most common responses were delaying going to the doctor for a temporary illness (19%) or for preventive care (19%).  But nearly as many — 16% — report putting off care for a more serious problem, either postponing a doctor’s visit related to a chronic illness such as diabetes or delaying major or minor surgery. 

Not all medical care can be postponed, however, and the survey indicates that roughly one in five (19%) people experienced serious financial problems recently due to family medical bills. Specifically, 13% reported they have used up all or most of their savings trying to pay off high medical bills in the past 12 months, and just as many say their medical debt means they have difficulty paying other bills. A similar proportion (12%) say they have been contacted by a collection agency, while a smaller share (7%) report being unable to pay for basic necessities like food, heat or housing. 

Beyond actual financial hardship due to medical care, the survey also indicates a rise in worries associated with health care costs.  Nearly half of Americans (45%) report they are “very” worried about having to pay more for their health care or health insurance, the highest proportion measured in Kaiser polls since late 2006.  Roughly four in 10 (38%) are very worried about affording health care they need — a number that rises to 56% among those who believe someone in their household will lose a job this year. 

Fully one-third (34%) of those with health coverage are worried they will lose it.  While these concerns are prevalent among low-income Americans, one-third of households earning between $30,000 and $75,000 per year are also “very worried” about losing their health care benefits. 

The share of Americans who say that the country’s economic problems make it more important than ever to take on health care reform has remained remarkably stable over the past five months at roughly six in 10 (62%).  However, the partisan divide also remains large with Democrats overwhelmingly (79%) saying reform is more important than ever and most Republicans (58%) saying the nation cannot afford to tackle health care reform at this point.  Independents tilt the balance by being in favor of reform now (57%). 

Health care continues to rank as one of the top issues on the nation’s policy agenda.  The economy dominates (71%) the public’s priorities for the president and Congress, followed by making Medicare and Social Security more financially sound (49%) — a new issue added to the list this month.  Terrorism (42%) and health care (39%) rank third and fourth. 

Interestingly, while the majority of Americans view action on health reform as more important than ever and believe reform would be good for the country as a whole (59%), fewer think it would personally benefit them or their family (39%).  A plurality (43%) of Americans do not expect to be personally impacted by reform and a small minority (11%) think they would be worse off.

“Far more people see themselves directly benefiting from health reform and far fewer see themselves being negatively affected than we saw in the Clinton health reform debate. Today’s economic anxieties have created a better starting point for health reform than we saw last time around,” Altman said.

While health reform remains popular, the public has high expectations for how easily reform might be achieved. A majority (58%) of Americans say that if policymakers made the right changes, they could reform health care “without spending more money to do it.”  This majority view is shared across political party identification, age group and income level.  A majority (56%) of the public also believes that the health system can be reformed “without changing the existing health care arrangements of people like yourself.” 

Seven in 10 Americans (72%) have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in President Obama “to do or recommend the right thing for health care reform,” giving him a 12 percentage point lead over the next most trusted actor in health care reform. Following Obama on the list of trusted players are doctors’ organizations (60%), Democratic leaders in Congress (57%) and AARP (57%). When Americans hear policymakers talk about health care reform, they predominantly are thinking about cost and coverage.  When asked what “health care reform” means to them, 40% of the public respond with a cost concern – people paying less for care, care being more affordable, or lowering the prices of medical goods such as prescription drugs.  Just as many (39%) describe reform as providing insurance to more people or helping the uninsured. Quality or delivery system reform did not leap to the minds of Americans with only nine percent mentioning it in their responses.

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Wegmans launches program to lower cost of generics

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Wegmans on Wednesday announced a new program that will lower the cost of nearly 390 select generic maintenance drugs and those used to treat acute conditions. The list is made up of the most-commonly prescribed generic prescription drugs filled at Wegmans, the retailer stated.

“We started by lowering food prices in November, and then began to look at other ways we could lower costs for customers and employees,” stated Colleen Wegman, Wegman’s president. “Free antibiotic prescriptions followed in early January,” she said. “It has confirmed what we’ve always known. If we approach everything by doing what’s right for our employees and customers, it is also good for our business.”

But more than saving money for its customers, expanding prescription savings programs in this economy prevents pharmacy share erosion.

“When a patient feels they must shop around for lower prices, we risk sacrificing the data that shows all of the prescribed drugs for that person,” stated John Carlo, Wegmans’ VP pharmacy. “It’s vital that we have a complete patient profile for every customer in order to identify drug interactions. We don’t want to give our patients a reason to use another pharmacy.”

The most-significant savings from this program will go to the people who need it most:  the uninsured who pay cash for prescriptions; those who have experienced a change in health care coverage; and the unemployed or uninsured who may not be filling their prescriptions. Consumers with prescription insurance coverage will see an immediate reduction in the amount of their co-pay.

Wegmans expects this to impact approximately 3.6 million new and refilled prescriptions annually. The total estimated savings for employees, customers, insurers, self-insured employer groups, and federal and state programs, like Medicare, Medicaid or EPIC in New York State, will exceed $15 million, according to the company. “It was stunning to realize the impact this program alone will have on health care costs in the communities where we have stores,” Wegman said.

The new prices go into effect March 1. A 30-day supply of the listed drugs will now cost $4.00.  A 90-day supply will cost $10.  The complete list will be available on wegmans.com.

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