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Kroger contributes $2.9 million to USO

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI – Kroger on Tuesday announced a total contribution to the USO of nearly $2.9 million for 2015. This total includes a company contribution of $1 million in funds and in-kind donations totaling $250,000.
 
The remaining support was raised through customers and associates who contributed at check stands, purchased special gift cards to be delivered to USO centers, or donated online throughout Kroger's year-long Honoring Our Heroes campaign.
 
Kroger also announced that as a result of its one-day Honoring our Heroes hiring event held on Sept. 15, the company hired more than 2,000 military veterans and their family members. Kroger has hired more than 32,000 veterans since 2009 as part of its commitment to active duty troops and the nation's 23 million veterans.
 
"Whether through our customer, associate and company support of the USO or creating career opportunities for transitioning service men and women, Kroger is dedicated to our nation's active duty troops and 23 million military veterans and their families," stated Lynn Marmer, Kroger's group VP corporate affairs.
 
As a token of appreciation for the many family dinners missed while deployed, Kroger invited troops and families to enjoy the summer barbecue experience in 11 bases across the country.  Kroger also provided a taste of home by sending barbecue "fixins" to three international bases for our deployed troops to enjoy overseas in Camp Buehring, Kuwait; Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.  
 
Since 2010, the Kroger family of stores, in partnership with customers, associates and vendors, has donated a total of $14.8 million to help support the military and their families – the largest cumulative gift to the USO in that organization's history. 
 
"The money raised by Kroger's 'Honoring Our Heroes' campaign speaks volumes to their generosity and that of their customers," said J.D. Crouch II, USO CEO and president. "For nearly 75 years, the USO has kept our servicemen and women connected to their family, home and country by providing the support, programs and entertainment that keep their morale high. Partners like Kroger, allow us to deliver on our important mission." 
 
 
 
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Where does your state rank in physician access?

BY Michael Johnsen

IRVING, Texas — As such convenient care options as retail clinics, telehealth services and urgent care clinics proliferate, physician search firm Merritt Hawkins has creaated its Physician Access Index, which ranks states based on 33 variables to show which have the best — and worst — access to physicians. The index shows that Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Delaware and Maryland have the most positive physician access variables, while Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and Oklahoma have the fewest.
 
“When it comes to accessing physicians, not all places or all patients are equal,” stated Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins. “As the healthcare system evolves, there will be clear access 'haves' and access 'have-nots,' and the rankings reflects these imbalances.”
 
The index tracks such metrics as physicians per capita, the percentage of residents with health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid acceptance rates, household income and telehealth access, among others, on a state-by-state basis. Each state is given a score for each metric; these scores are added together, with lower scores meaning better physician access. For example, the top state, Massachusetts, has a total score of 442 points, whereas Oklahoma — the lowest-ranked state on the index — has a score of 1096. 
 
But these scores only show an overview of a given state, Smith said, noting that other factors influence access within states. Though New York is ranked 11th best for physician access, it ranks 34th in percent of mental health care needs met. And New Mexico, which ranks 47th in the overall rankings, ranks sixth in patient encounters per capita in federally qualified health centers, which Merritt Hawkins said suggests a solid safety net for underserved patients. 
 
“No state is without its challenges and strong points where physician access is concerned,” Smith said. “There are pockets of patients with poor physician access in highly ranked states and pockets of patients with good physician access in states with low rankings.”
 
The data, then, can bve used to show what challenges are facing states when it comes to healthcare access for their residents. Though issues like poverty and low per capita income are issues that won’t resolve overnight, Smith said that funding residency positions, and investing in such retention incentives as educational loan repayment could help with physician retention rates. Additionally, Smith said, states that haven't yet can work to reduce barriers to telehealth implementation, expand the practice parameters of NPs and PAs, and expand eligibility requirements for Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. 
 
For more insights, see the infographic below. 
 
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Weis Markets Q3 sales up 4.1%

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa.- Weis Makets on Tuesday reported that sales for the third quarter of 2015 increased 4.1% to $711.9 million, while comparable store sales increased 4% compared to the third quarter in 2014. 
 
For the 39-week period ended Sept. 26, 2015, the company's sales increased 3.9% to $2.1 billion while comparable store sales increased 3.9% compared to the same 39-week period ended September 27, 2014. 
 
Weis Markets provided preliminary unaudited sales results for the third quarter ended Sept. 26 pending a full release of its third quarter results following a review and analysis of self-insurance reserves to determine if any adjustments to its historical financial statements are necessary. The company expects to file its quarterly report on Form 10-Q prior to Dec. 1, 2015.  
 
While researching alternative methods to calculate retained claim liability for the company's self-insured workers compensation and general liability insurance programs, it was determined that adjustments would be necessary to the prior application of actuarial methods used to estimate the obligation of future payments resulting from claims due to past events.  
 
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