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Larry Kocot to head up KPMG’s new Center for Healthcare Regulatory Insight

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — KPMG, the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm, has named Larry Kocot, a prominent healthcare law and policy professional closely associated with the launch of Medicare Part D, to lead the new Center for Healthcare Regulatory Insight within KPMG's Healthcare and Life Sciences Practice.
 
Kocot will be based in Washington D.C., and will assist KPMG's clients in assessing regulatory and policy trends driving health care transformation and industry convergence. The Center will focus on health care regulation and the broader implications of operating in a more collaborative and integrated U.S. healthcare payment and delivery environment. 
 
"Healthcare organizations continue to face significant complexity on many fronts," Kocot said. "KPMG is well positioned to assist clients with navigating change in an increasingly regulated environment." 
 
Kocot has been associated with a number of successful healthcare policy initiatives at the Brookings Institution, a leading policy research group, since 2007, following his federal government service as senior advisor to the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Department of Health and Human Services from 2004-07. 
 
"Adding Larry's insights on emerging healthcare policy and regulatory trends will be a tremendous asset to our clients," said Ed Giniat, KPMG's U.S. Healthcare and Life Sciences Practice leader. "He is a recognized leader in assisting healthcare organizations reach their maximum potential in this new operating environment."
 
Kocot has served in senior leadership roles with a number of prominent organizations including, ICF International, the Partnership for a Healthier America, the Commonwealth Health Research Board, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In addition, Kocot has practiced law at Epstein Becker & Green; Dentons, US; and Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. 
 
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Walgreens Wellness Tour hits the ground running with the National Urban League

BY Michael Johnsen

 

 

 
 
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens and the National Urban League on Wednesday announced the return of the Walgreens Wellness Tour with the National Urban League. For the ninth year, Walgreens and the National Urban League are joining together now through November for this community outreach program dedicated to providing free preventative and early detection health services to urban and at-risk communities. 
 
“Walgreens relationship with the National Urban League empowers individuals with knowledge and resources for the prevention and early detection of today’s leading chronic diseases,” said John Gremer, Walgreens director of community affairs. “Together with the National Urban League, we are committed to providing urban and at-risk communities access to valuable health tests that deliver key insights and assist individuals in the pursuit of happier and healthier lives. The continuation of the Wellness Tour is just one of the ways we deliver on that promise.”
 
The health tour’s bundle of free health tests and risk assessments include total cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, body mass index, body composition, skeletal muscle, resting metabolism, visceral fat, real body age and body weight. Collectively, the health tests are valued at more than $100. The health tests are administered by certified wellness staff and are available to adults who are ages 18 and older. Afterward, participants can consult with a Walgreens pharmacist or certified wellness staff about his or her results. This free service can be completed in approximately 20 minutes – insurance will not be billed.
 
The tour will also highlight how the National Urban League is working to ensure that all Americans receive access to quality and affordable health services. The tour will continue to collaborate with Urban League affiliates to encourage members of urban and at-risk communities to act as their own health advocates by taking advantage of the free preventative and early detection health services offered by the Wellness Tour.
 
“The National Urban League and Walgreens are committed to disease prevention and to improving everyday health through education and early detection,” said Marc Moral, president and CEO of the National Urban League. “As our partnership with Walgreens enters its ninth year, we are excited to take this tour to multiple cities and maximize the impact of our shared, long-term commitment to bridge the gap and help diverse communities lead healthy, sustainable lives.”
 
Since the tour’s launch in 2007, Walgreens has financially contributed more than $2.1 million to the National Urban League for continuously providing health services and awareness to their Urban League affiliates across the country. In total over the last eight years, the tour has administered more than 570,000 health tests valued at $12.8 million to communities throughout the United States.
 

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Update: Changes pay off early for Target, Q1 profits up 52%

BY Antoinette Alexander

 

MINNEAPOLIS — Target executives said they are “pleased” with its first quarter, particularly its signature categories, as the company posted a lift in first quarter sales and double-digit gains in its digital channel.

“We’re pleased with our first quarter traffic and sales, particularly in our signature categories, which drove better-than-expected profitability through improved gross margin and continued expense management,” stated Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target. “We’re encouraged to see early progress on our strategic priorities, including strong sales growth in apparel, home and beauty, nearly 40% growth in digital sales, and positive traffic in both our stores and digital channels. We continue to benefit from strong execution by our stores team, who overcame weather challenges and West Coast port delays to deliver outstanding guest service in the first quarter.”

During the first quarter, sales increased 2.8% to $17.1 billion from $16.7 billion last year, reflecting a 2.3% increase in comparable sales combined with sales from new stores. Digital channel sales grew 37.8% and contributed 0.8 percentage points to comparable sales growth.

“We benefited from a very strong mix of sales in our signature categories this year, both in stores and online. First quarter comp sales in signature categories grew more than twice as fast our comparable sales overall and mix in our digital channels was even stronger,” Cornell told analysts during Wednesday morning’s conference call.

During the call, Cornell reiterated the company’s five core priorities

• Becoming a leader in delivering shopping on-demand for its guests;
• Establishing clear roles in its merchandising categories, which a specific focus on growing its signature categories — style, baby, kids and wellness;
• Developing capabilities to become more localized in its store; experience and more personalized in its digital interaction with guests
• Continue to develop and test urban formats such as CityTarget and Target; and
• Transforming to create capacity to invest in these growth initiatives.

“I strongly believe if we make progress on these five priorities over the next few years Target will deliver outstanding financial results and will become an even stronger retailer,” Cornell told analysts. “While we are in the early stages, I am encouraged by signs of progress on these efforts.”

During the quarter, adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations (adjusted EPS) were $1.10, up 19.6% from 92 cents in 2014. GAAP EPS from continuing operations were $1.01, compared with 89 cents in first quarter 2014.

In providing an update on its Canadian operations, as of April 12, Target Canada completed its inventory liquidation efforts and closed the last of its 133 Canadian retail stores. A court-approved real estate sales process is underway and expected to be complete by the end of June.

Consistent with expectations, after-tax losses from discontinued operations were $16 million in first quarter 2015, compared with $153 million last year. Certain assets and liabilities of Target’s discontinued operations are based on estimates.

Target also noted that incurred breach-related expenses of $3 million in first quarter 2015, compared with $18 million of net pre-tax expense last year. Since fourth quarter 2013, Target has incurred net expense related to the data breach of $166 million, reflecting $256 million of gross expense, partially offset by the recognition of a $90 million insurance receivable.

Looking ahead to the second quarter 2015, Target expects adjusted EPS of $1.04 to $1.14, compared with $1.01 in second quarter 2014. The company now expects full-year 2015 adjusted EPS of $4.50 to $4.65, compared with prior guidance of $4.45 to $4.65.

“These signs of progress are meaningful and demonstrate the value of our efforts and validate our strategic priorities,” Cornell told analysts. “Yet, as we look ahead we realize we are on a much longer journey and need to accomplish many more things. Specifically, we are in the very early stages of our work on localization and personalization. In the future, these efforts should benefit both sales and gross margin rate. And while we are still in the testing phase, we are very encouraged by the progress in evaluating and rolling out urban formats like CityTarget and Target Express. We opened two new Express locations in the San Francisco market this quarter, both of which are quite different from our first location in the Minneapolis market. We expect to open six more locations this year in a variety of markets and demographic areas to continue to learn how to operate this new format in a diverse array of sizes and settings. Finally, we are just beginning to reinvent our food assortment and presentation.”
 

This post was updated to reflect comments made during the company's conference call. 

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