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JAMA study: Patients report better health, access in states with Medicaid expansion

BY David Salazar
CHICAGO — A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine is taking a look at how patients view the state of their health in states that chose to expand Medicaid access through the Affordable Care Act. The study surveyed nearly 3,000 low-income residents each in two states — Arkansas and Kentucky — whose governors opted into the Medicaid expansion and compared their responses to almost 3,000 people in Texas, a state that did not expand Medicaid under the ACA. 
 
The study found that, compared to an earlier survey asking the same questions in 2014, by 2015, Medicaid expansion meant patients in those states were more likely to have a personal physician (up 12.1 percentage points over 2014) and a decreased reliance on emergency rooms. The 2015 survey also recorded a reduction in reported cost-related barriers to care, skipped medications and difficulty with medical bills. And out-of-pocket spending in Kentucky and Arkansas dropped by 29.5% from a baseline average of $434.  
 
The results also showed that patients in states with Medicaid expansion reported a statistically significant lower likelihood of emergency room visits and more office visits per person compared to Texas, alongside an increased likelihood of patients receiving an annual checkup. Additionally, in Arkansas and Kentucky, the number of respondents with chronic conditions receiving regular care increased, and they saw a drop in the proportion of respondents who reported fair or poor quality of care. 
 
“Improvements in self-reported health in our study offer some of the earliest evidence that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion may be producing similar benefits detected in prior insurance expansions,” the study says. “While self-reported health has been shown to be a strong predictor of mortality, it remains to be seen whether the modest changes detected in our study will lead to subsequent improvements in objective measures of population health.”
 
Among the limitations of the study were response rate, though the authors note that studies with lower response rates have produced data that tracks with subsequent government-released data. The authors also note that the survey’s design prevents a clear causal interpretation, but the findings’ consistency with earlier, similar studies “makes alternative explanations less likely.” Moreover, though, the study notes that Arkansas and Kentucky may not generalize to the overall U.S. population, noting that Medicaid programs vary by states in terms of reimbursement and covered benefits, among other factors. But the study also has its strengths, according to the authors. 
 
“By targeting a sample of individuals most likely to gain coverage under the expansion—namely, poor adults in 2 states with the largest coverage gains under the ACA—we have greater statistical power to detect changes associated with this policy than many national analyses,” the study says. “Finally, by using a telephone survey with a short turnaround time, we offer timely evidence to inform policy decisions being made in these states and others.”
 
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QuickChek opens new store in N.J.

BY Gina Acosta

BUTLER, N.J. — QuickChek is accelerating its growth plans by opening a new store in Butler, N.J.

The Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based fresh convenience market chain has opened a new 4,542-square-foot store at 1268 Route 23.

The new store will be open 24 hours a day, enabling customers to create delicious custom-made oven-toasted fresh subs, sandwiches, wraps and salads and personalized hot and cold beverages exactly as they want them, any time of day or night.

“We look forward to serving this busy market by providing our high quality, great tasting food and beverages close to where our customers live and work,” said QuickChek CEO Dean Durling, whose family-owned company was recently honored as the Convenience Store Industry Chain of the Year by Convenience Store Decisions magazine. 

The honor is the latest of many the company has received; its coffee was voted the best in America in a national consumer survey by Technomic in 2014.

In addition to its renowned coffee wall, stores feature friendly baristas who custom make more than 60 varieties of handcrafted hot and iced cold drinks, including blended-to-order fruit smoothies and fresh-brewed espressos brewed with QuickChek’s Dark Roast espresso beans in regular, decaf and extra shots.

Additional menu items include fresh brewed cappuccinos and lattes; hot chocolate; chai teas; decadent frozen chocolate treats; iced and frozen fruit lemonade; and iced and frozen lattes. 

The new store creates 40 new jobs including eight management positions. Each new store typically generates approximately $1 million in tax revenues, adding to its positive impact on the local economy.

QuickChek stores provide one-stop shopping, offering a wide variety of grocery and market items including fresh baked goods from an in-store bakery and excellent customer service provided by locally hired team members. The company continues to expand its mobile ordering menu to meet the needs of today’s on-the-go consumer.

Modern by industry standards, the family-owned company maintains bright clean stores, well-lighted fuel stations and parking lots with wide, easy-to-use entrances and exits that add to a shopper’s convenience. Additional store amenities include no-fee ATMs which provide additional added value to consumers; six gasoline pumps offering high-quality fuel at value prices; and 25 parking spaces.

The company has 144 store locations throughout New Jersey, the Hudson Valley and Long Island.

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AdWeek: Data show big gains with SnapChat

BY Gina Acosta

Merchants "don't realize the incremental word of mouth Snapchat is creating" and there's a pile of missed marketing opportunities for retailers, according to new research from Placed. (Adweek)

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