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Kroger declares quarterly dividend

BY DSN STAFF

CINCINNATI — Kroger’s board of directors on Friday declared a quarterly dividend of 11.5 cents per share.

The dividend will be paid March 1 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Feb. 15.

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Women’s preventive care services to become exempt from cost sharing in August

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Most new and renewed health plans will be required to cover preventive services for women without cost sharing starting in August, according to guidelines announced Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the guidelines, part of the Affordable Care Act, saying that preventive services, including contraceptive services, would become available to insured women without co-pay, co-insurance or deductible starting Aug. 1.

HHS originally issued the rule last August, covering contraceptives, domestic violence screening and counseling, breast-feeding support and supplies, well-woman visits, testing for sexually transmitted infections — including HIV and human papillomavirus — and others. The rule exempts certain nonprofit religious organizations from covering contraceptive services.


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Colts-area Wellness Experience stores are difference makers

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — As more of Walgreens’ store base is transformed into its Wellness Experience format, the less it becomes an underdog in its hardline stance against Express Scripts. Perhaps that was why the former Indianapolis Colts strategist Tony Dungy — the first NFL coach to record a win against all 32 NFL teams — was on hand to announce the new store openings.

(THE NEWS: Walgreens unveils newly renovated stores in Indianapolis, for the full story click here.)

Dungy’s championship Colts teams were known for implementing what was called a "Cover 2" 4-3 defense that effectively smothered offenses by having a systematic defense for, well, everything. Conversely, Walgreens’ Wellness Experience format is fast becoming a "Cover 2" offense replete with a systematic healthcare offering for, well, everything.

Or maybe Dungy was on hand to help herald the opening of his hometown Walgreens stores because of his philosophy — incidentally a philosophy that can be used to summarize Walgreens’ approach to Express Scripts — "You can’t always control circumstances. However, you can always control your attitude, approach and response. Your options are to complain or to look ahead and figure out how to make the situation better,” (from Dungy’s "Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life"). It’s become quite clear that Walgreens is looking ahead, and with these new Wellness Experience format stores, with that better-situation solution in hand.

No matter why Dungy was there during the grand openings, these future-leaning stores that have incorporated into them learnings from Walgreens’ two flagship stores in New York and Chicago as dictated by the local consumer/patient need, are helping to redefine pharmacy retailing in much the same way Rite Aid’s innovative Customer World stores did just a few years ago.

There certainly is a lot of strategic thinking, coupled with some splashy technology, showcased in Walgreens’ new Wellness Experience locations, but it’s that emphasis on fostering that patient-practitioner interaction, realizing better health outcomes, helping to reduce hospital visits and taking a chunk out of the healthcare costs of employers and payers that will continue to make Walgreens’ a go-to company for health, beauty and nutrition solutions.

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