PHARMACY

NACDS testifies on healthcare reform at House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Chain retail pharmacies got their say in the debate over healthcare reform in testimony Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores VP federal government affairs Paul Kelly addressed the subcommittee as part of its review of the draft healthcare reform legislation released by the chairmen of the Committees on Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means and Energy and Labor.

Kelly’s testimony followed more than 180 meetings last week between pharmacy advocates and members of Congress during NACDS RxImpact Day.

“One of pharmacy’s major contributions is helping with medication adherence,” Kelly said in his testimony. “Simply put, adherence is taking medications correctly. It has major implications for patient health and for healthcare costs … Non-adherence has been estimated to cost $177 billion annually.”

Kelly said pharmacy access could be compromised if Congress did not reform pharmacy Medicaid reimbursements, putting 20% of pharmacies at risk, particularly those that serve low-income customers.

“The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 would set pharmacy reimbursement for some generics at 36% below cost,” Kelly said. “While aspects of this issue are complex, it comes down to a basic principle of economics.”

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NBGH recognizes employers that promote healthy living

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON A nonprofit organization has awarded more than 60 employers for promoting healthy living.

The National Business Group on Health announced Wednesday that it had recognized 63 large employers as the winners of the “2009 Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles” award.

“We are proud to recognize 63 large employers for their unparalleled commitment to a healthy workplace and for making their employees’ health and well-being a top priority,” NGBH president Helen Darling said. “Employers know first-hand that a healthy workforce is essential to increasing productivity and to maintaining a competitive edge in the new global economy.”

Companies that won the award – given in Platinum, Gold and Silver categories – included Hannaford Supermarkets, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, CVS Caremark, General Mills, Wal-Mart, Cardinal Health, Meijer and Target.

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MinuteClinic becomes participating provider in all CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield plans

BY Antoinette Alexander

MINNEAPOLIS MinuteClinic is now a participating provider in insurance plans offered by CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., the company announced on Wednesday.

Nearly 3.4 million CareFirst members now have in-network access to MinuteClinic healthcare centers located inside select CVS/pharmacy stores in Maryland and portions of northern Virginia in the CareFirst service area.

Previously, MinuteClinic was a participating provider with CareFirst’s preferred provider and federal employee plans in Maryland only.

“This is an important development in the growth of our business in Maryland and northern Virginia as we expand access to care to new customers,” stated Chip Phillips, MinuteClinic president. “By offering high-quality treatment in a convenient setting, we are working with CareFirst to help reduce healthcare insurance expenses for its members, as well as time spent away from members’ families and the workplace.”

MinuteClinic, which is owned by CVS Caremark, has about 500 locations in 25 states.

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