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New CVS Health Medicare plans feature $0 deductibles, lower premiums

BY Michael Johnsen

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — As part of the new Medicare Prescription Drug Plan options for 2016, CVS Health's SilverScript Insurance Company is providing Medicare beneficiaries a choice from two SilverScript plans that offer $0 deductibles, lower premiums than the 2015 SilverScript plans in many states and low co-pays for several frequently prescribed drugs. In addition, the 2016 SilverScript prescription drug insurance plans earned an overall 4-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in part for their high quality, clinical outcomes and customer service. 
 
"As part of our commitment to helping people on their path to better health, we simplified and consolidated our Medicare PDP offerings in 2016 to provide comprehensive and even more affordable coverage. In fact, our plan premiums are among the lowest offered among national Part D plans," said Mitch Betses, SVP Medicare Part D Services for CVS Health. "In addition, the recent 4-star rating awarded to us by CMS demonstrates the high level of value and quality of care our SilverScript plans offer, and we remain committed to supporting our members in delivering worry-free coverage as we continue our legacy as one of the first plans available when Medicare Part D began 10 years ago."  
 
SilverScript will provide two Part D plan options in 2016: SilverScript Choice and SilverScript Plus. SilverScript Choice offers comprehensive coverage with low premiums and co-pays, and SilverScript Plus provides additional coverage in the coverage gap (donut hole). The Plus plan is designed for people who take several medications on a regular basis and are likely to reach the coverage gap during the 2016 plan year. 
 
Both SilverScript PDPs offered in 2016 will feature a $0-deductible, low copays for many drugs and competitive premiums. SilverScript premiums in 30 states are lower than they were in 2015 with premiums in eight of those states below $20, and SilverScript Choice plans have the lowest PDP premium in four states. Additionally, in 2016, SilverScript is introducing a new formulary to keep co-pays low for some frequently prescribed drugs. 
 
Enrollment for the 2016 plan year begins on Oct. 15, 2015 and runs through Dec. 7, 2015. 
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Independents’ optimism ‘off the charts’ coming out of NCPA annual meeting

BY Michael Johnsen

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Following a week of meetings in the Washington, D.C. area, more than 3,000 independent pharmacists are about to head home to implement the learnings and shared best-practices they acquired from the National Community Pharmacists Association's 2015 Annual Convention here. 
 
"Optimism is off the charts high," commented Doug Hoey, CEO NCPA during a press conference with journalists Tuesday morning. "These are business owners who are resilient; they are entrepreneurial. Yes, the wish the environment was not so difficult, but they are doing everything they can to adjust."
 
There are many opportunities that independent pharmacists can realize, Hoey added. "For example, 5% of patients account for almost half of all the healthcare costs in the country," he said. "Our community pharmacies are well positioned to help manage and coordinate care for these patients that need more care." 
 
And independents are willing and able to identify and help mange the costs for those patients. According to NCPA, as many as 75% of independent pharmacists are currently offering medication synchronization and adherence services to their patients. 
 
Independents are also very much community focused — two out of every three independent pharmacists are involved with local organizations, like Boy Scouts or the local Parent Teacher Association. 
 
NCPA announced a number of legislative and marketplace focal points on making independent pharmacy a profitable business model. "Our members overwhelmingly share with us their frustrations about conditions in the marketplace that are making in increasingly difficult for them to compete," commented Brad Arthur, president-elect NCPA. "The economics of independent community pharmacy are under assault," he said, and NCPA as an organization is working tirelessly on both legislative and marketplace fixes to promote the success and profitability of independents. 
 
As the health consumer gravitates to more wellness-oriented producsts, there is an opportunity to continue to shift the independent's business from 92% prescriptions and more toward the sale of front-end products. "We're helping our folks see the value in that, helping them properly market and identify these products so they can be a solution in their marketplace for driving wellness," Arthur said. 
 
There are three "here and now" legislative initiatives around which NCPA is actively advocating, including first to create generic drug pricing transparency and timely updates, second, to create a level playing field with regard to narrow and restricted pharmacy networks and third to advocate provider status for pharmacists. 
 

 

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Ford’s Connelly talks anticipating, planning for change

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA — No one knows what the future holds — unless, of course, knowing what the future holds is your job. Ford Motor Company’s corporate futurist Sheryl Connelly joined the 8th Annual Emerson Group Retail Industry  Day to not just share what tomorrow’s consumers might be interested in buying, but more importantly to share a coiled perspective that starts broad and hits closer to the consumer as each new layer is analyzed.

“As business people, you cannot be afraid of the future,” Connelly said. “You have to try to anticipate where you want to go and how the market will receive you. What context will you have to navigate? What path will you follow?”

It’s not as simple as getting from point A to point B along your corporate timeline, defining the direction of your company and implementing a linear strategy to proceed along that course, Connelly said. Futurists have to incorporate change into their strategies. They have to navigate the potential ramifications of that change and implement a course redirect halfway through in order to reach the objective point.

“When people think about the future, they often look to the past,” Connelly warned. “They think that what’s worked in the past, what’s served them historically, will continue to serve them going forward,” she said. “It’s a bit like looking in your rearview mirror, while going 90 miles an hour forward. It’s really a horrible compass in terms of what to expect going forward.”

Using that rearview mirror to navigate the future will eventually drive your business off the road. According to Connelly, a better tool for future forecasting is a process she called "STEEP" —

• Examining how SOCIAL developments like consumer demographics, lifestyles and values will influence you brand;

• Determining the role TECHNOLOGY plays in the lifecycle of your products;

• Factoring the ECONOMY into your analysis and exploring how your brand fits into the overall scheme of things;

• Considering ENVIRONMENTAL impacts, including both your production footprint, as well as supply chain ramifications; and

• Thinking about how POLITICAL developments may impact your business.

For example, what happens if oil prices were to rise to $300 per barrel? “Most people would immediately go to ‘What does that do to our supply and demand?’ ‘How would that change our consumer outlook?’” Connelly said. “But I say before you get to that, you have a lot more questions to ask. You have to ask who are the political winners and losers? What are the economic implications for the winners vs. the losers? And inside each of those regions, what would it mean for the rich, the poor, the middle class? What kind of technologies would come out in that context? Grassroots, garage innovation that’s distributed in a bottom-up paradigm or would it be heavily funded venture capital that’s only available to the select few at the very top of the pyramid?”

“When you start asking questions like that, you recognize that no discussion is ever linear. If you pull on one string of these future scenarios, the entire fabric changes.”

Successful futurists consider juxtaposed scenarios, Connelly said. For example, what happens to your company’s strategy if the economy continues getting stronger, and what happens if the economy experiences another setback? It’s not about putting plans in motion for either eventuality but to consider what happens to those plans.

“Ultimately, if you can come up with a business plan, a strategy or product offering that works on either end of the spectrum, you don’t need to know what the future holds. Challenge your status quo. Ask yourself how resilient is your business plan,” Connelly said. “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

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