HEALTH

NCDP healthcare reform recommendations advocate for diabetes prevention, treatment and care

BY Allison Cerra

PRINCETON, N.J. The National Changing Diabetes Program, a program of Novo Nordisk, and several member associations urged President Obama and members of Congress to make the prevention, detection and treatment of diabetes, one of the nation’s most pervasive and costly diseases, a priority in reforming the U.S. healthcare system.

In an open letter to the President and lawmakers, NCDP said a national response to diabetes is required in order to transform health care and begin to ease the economic and personal burden of the disease, which is growing at an alarming rate. Today, more than 1-in-4 Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and these two conditions are estimated to have cost the U.S. $218 billion in 2007 in medical care and lost productivity, according to a recent study.

Joining the NCDP in reaching out to lawmakers are the American Diabetes Association, the American College of Physicians and VSP.

“We applaud the effort to reorient our health care system to focus more on the prevention of disease, and nowhere is the need greater than with diabetes,” said Dana Haza, senior director of NCDP, an initiative created by Novo Nordisk to drive health systems change at the national and local level. “Not only does diabetes frequently result in devastating and costly complications, but diabetes also significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, amputations and depression. So tackling diabetes early will make a huge impact on our nation’s overall health care system.”

The NCDP is calling on lawmakers to ensure diabetes is a top priority for health reform, including all new or expanded initiatives in public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. The organization said diabetes needs to be specifically identified as a priority condition for:

  • Patient-centered care models
  • Chronic care management programs
  • Health information technology programs
  • Programs to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care
  • Prevention and health promotion initiatives
  • Quality improvement initiatives
  • Quality-based incentives
  • Medicare and Medicaid demonstrations of new care models and delivery systems

“We are facing a unique opportunity to profoundly change health care in America and improve the lives of countless people,” Haza said. “Changing diabetes is essential to health care reform.”

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HEALTH

Luna unveils product line with new vitamin D recipe

BY Allison Cerra

BERKELEY, Calif. In response to women’s ever-changing nutritional needs, Luna, the maker of the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women, announced a new Luna bar recipe with added vitamin D to help support women’s calcium absorption and promote more complete bone health.

Coinciding with Luna’s 10th anniversary, the new recipe commemorates a decade of nourishing women from the inside out. LUNA continues to provide women with the taste they love and the nutrition that their bodies crave.

“Luna has always been dedicated to staying current with the latest knowledge around women’s nutrition to ensure that our food continues to deliver on the nutrients women need most,” said Nicole Pemerl, brand manager of Luna. “The new recipe underscores our commitment to women’s nutrition.”

Luna’s new vitamin D recipe hits shelves this summer in all of the Luna flavors that women have come to love, including White Chocolate Macadamia, Lemon Zest and Nutz Over Chocolate. Each bar is 170 to 190 calories each, rich in antioxidants and high in folic acid, calcium and iron.

Luna bars are sold at select retailers, including Target and REI stores nationwide, and online at www.lunabar.com with a suggested retail price of $1.39.

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HEALTH

Want to fix health care? Leverage clinics

BY Rob Eder

“We’re already paying for it—it’s just hidden in your premiums.”

That’s what President Barack Obama told attendees of a town hall meeting last month in Green Bay, Wis., one of the stops on his traveling road show to sell his vision for healthcare reform to America.

I have said before that I am optimistic that we can fix what is wrong with health care without socializing medicine—a fear that seems to play like a broken record among echo chamber dissenters who attempt to compare health care in Canada and the United Kingdom to a Breshnev-era toilet paper line in the former Soviet Union. I have met people from these countries, including some pretty conservative types who will tell you that the kinds of stories folks like Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., tell about having to wait longer for care just aren’t true.

That also doesn’t mean that we should socialize medicine either. Because the last time I checked, the debate wasn’t about shifting 300 million Americans—including the 250 million of us who already have insurance—to a government-run program, it was about finding a way to mitigate the rising cost of health care and getting coverage for the 46 million or so that either don’t have insurance or don’t have enough of it.

But I do agree with Sen. Graham and others like him who believe that ultimately, these types of issues—namely, the question of whether or not to create a public option to compete with private insurers, and who is going to pay for all of this—have the potential to derail health reform entirely. In the course of the debate, there has been much consideration given to the idea of cutting back reimbursements to providers who participate in such programs as Medicare and Medicaid. This industry knows full well what stuff like that means.

Squeezing providers limits access to quality health care. If a pharmacy goes broke and shuts down because it can’t afford to serve Medicaid patients, that store is closed to everybody, not just to the Medicaid patients that used to shop there. When a third-year medical student decides to pursue a specialty rather than go into family practice, that is one less GP that is available to treat Americans. Penalizing providers isn’t the answer.

I am not an economist, and I don’t pretend to have an answer for how or where America is going to come up with $1 trillion to pay for health reform. But I am certain that figure could be reduced substantially if the plan to fix health care included a bigger role for retail clinics and worksite-based healthcare solutions.

I was reminded of this again last month during the “ABC News” live broadcast of the President’s healthcare forum, a program it called “Prescription for America,” when a Johns Hopkins nursing student named Hershaw Davis addressed the issue of a shortage of primary care providers and the overcrowding that impacts our nation’s emergency room and urgent care facilities as a result. His basic question was, how can we get nurse practitioners more involved at the community level?

The answer Obama should have given was to push for the expansion of the clinic model in every city and town in America. How much could we shave off that $1 trillion estimate if we were talking about utilizing the clinics to do acute care and even play a greater role in prevention and wellness for 46 million uninsured Americans instead of funneling them through the ER or trying to come up with imaginary physicians that don’t exist to provide this kind of care?

Why do I believe this kind of care provides more answers than questions? Just take a look at the Big Three U.S. Automakers versus their top competitors in Japan and Europe. It is estimated that the cost of every car produced by Ford, GM and Chrysler includes about $1,500 to fund the price of health care; BMW is spending about $450 per car, while Honda spends about $150. One reason, though certainly not the only one, is that here in this country, Honda and BMW are utilizing worksite-based solutions to provide care for the people who build their cars and their families. The Big Three do not.

Editor’s Note: A headline for a story that appeared in the June 29 issue of Drug Store News (p. 12) regarding industry reaction to the Affordable Health Choices Act, commonly referred to as the Kennedy health plan, suggested that the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association fully endorsed the plan. To clarify, the groups support certain provisions of the bill, particularly a proposed grant program to implement medication therapy management services for people with chronic conditions. The groups do not patently support all aspects of the proposed legislation.

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