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Poll: One-third of parents support school, daycare immunization requirements

BY Antoinette Alexander

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Over the same time period that multiple outbreaks of measles and whooping cough made headlines around the country, parents’ views on vaccines became more favorable, according to a poll by University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health asked parents in May how their views on vaccinations changed between 2014 and 2015, during which two dozen measles outbreaks were reported in the United States, including a multi-state outbreak traced to Disneyland.

One-third of parents who participated in the poll indicated they now perceived more benefits of vaccines, while one-quarter perceived vaccines to be safer now than a year ago. One-third of parents also reported being more supportive of school and daycare entry requirements for vaccination than they were the previous year.

“Over the last year there have been high-profile news stories about outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough. These news reports may be influencing how parents perceive childhood vaccines across the country,” stated Matthew Davis, director of the National Poll on Children’s Health and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School. “For a quarter to a third of parents to say that their views on the safety and benefits of vaccines have shifted in just a year’s time is quite remarkable. Parents’ perceptions that vaccines are safer and offer more benefits are also consistent with their stronger support of daycare and school entry requirements for immunizations.”

Parents were also asked their opinions about the risk of measles and whooping cough compared with a year ago. Forty percent believe the risk of measles for children in the United States is higher than what it was one year ago. Another 45% said the risk is about the same and 15% said the risk is lower.

A resurgence of whooping cough and measles over the last few years has triggered a national debate over vaccinations and garnered ongoing media coverage. As reported, California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill to impose one of the nation’s strictest vaccination laws following the outbreak linked to Disneyland in December 2014 that sickened more than 100 people. A surge in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks have also spanned across the country from New York to Michigan to Washington State.

The majority of parents polled believe vaccines have the same benefits as a year ago and think the safety of vaccines has stayed the same. A minority of parents also had less favorable views on vaccines, with 7% perceiving less safety, 5% perceiving fewer benefits and 6% saying they were less supportive of school and daycare entry requirements than the previous year.
 
“Outbreaks of disease can safely be prevented through childhood vaccination, but there are deeply-held convictions about parents’ autonomy and remaining concerns among some parents about vaccine safety,” stated Davis, who is also with the U-M School of Public Health, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and deputy director for U-M’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

“Media coverage of outbreaks over the past year, accompanied by messages about vaccines for whooping cough and measles, may be swaying parents’ opinions toward stronger beliefs in the positive aspects of vaccines. The impact of such shifts in perception will ultimately be measured by whether more parents vaccinate their kids.”
 

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House Panel reviews Medicaid at 50

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — With the 50th anniversary of Medicaid fast approaching on July 30, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing titled “Medicaid at 50: Strengthening and Sustaining the Program” as it looks for opportunities to strengthen and sustain the Medicaid program.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores submitted a statement for the hearing emphasizing the role pharmacy plays in providing convenient, accessible, and cost-effective health services to Medicaid beneficiaries in partnership with healthcare entities and other providers to improve health outcomes.  

“As the face of neighborhood healthcare, community pharmacies and pharmacists provide access to Medicaid prescription medications and over the counter products, as well as cost-effective health services such as immunizations and disease screenings for Medicaid beneficiaries,” NACDS wrote in its statement.  

NACDS cited the continued expansion of state Medicaid enrollment as a result of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, enabling pharmacists to provide much-needed healthcare services to Medicaid patients.

In the statement, NACDS stressed the importance of the release and timing of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Final Rule on Medicaid Covered Outpatient Drugs. NACDS emphasized the importance of allowing states adequate time to implement average manufacturer price-based federal upper limits and adjust corresponding dispensing fees.

“CMS must allow states adequate time to implement AMP-based FULs and adjust corresponding dispensing fees that ensure Medicaid drug reimbursement does not fall below drug acquisition cost and that Medicaid beneficiaries continue to have access to critical prescription drugs,” NACDS wrote.    
                                                                  
NACDS addressed a proposal within the 21st Century Cures legislation that would exclude authorized generic drugs from the calculation of AMPs for brand name drugs. NACDS urged the need for clarification on this proposal and to ensure that manufacturers continue to meet the requirements and obligations to calculate and report AMPs for authorized generic drugs for rebate and pharmacy reimbursement purposes.
 

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APhA Foundation launches new diabetes program

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association Foundation has unveiled its new Patient Self-Management Solutions aimed at reducing overall cost of care by approximately $1,000 per person with diabetes per year, improving health outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction.

Driving employee wellness is a key strategic imperative for most organizations. From increasing the number of days on the job to reducing the cost of benefits to improving employee motivation and morale, corporate wellness programs are more critical than ever to businesses, and the PSM Solutions can help address these issues, according to the APhA Foundation.

The APhA Foundation’s PSM Solutions were developed leveraging more than a decade of in-field use in the Foundation’s diabetes research in collaboration with employers, patients and providers. Based on the Foundation’s Project IMPACT: Diabetes, Diabetes Ten City Challenge, and Patient-Self Management Program for Diabetes, the PSM Solutions model includes the Patient Self-Management Credential for Diabetes, APhA Foundation’s software, a national network of pharmacist providers, and the methodology refined over the course of the Foundation’s research.

With the flexibility to add the PSMC for Diabetes to an existing program or develop an end-to-end solution, PSM Solutions are ideally suited for employers and health plans looking to address their chronic disease management needs, the Foundation stated. PSM Solutions allow providers to administer and manage knowledge, skills and performance assessments that identify patients’ individual needs and customize the care that is delivered to facilitate self-management.

“This solution enables pharmacists and other healthcare providers to gain a comprehensive understanding of their patients’ ability to manage their diabetes through the real world application of knowledge, skills and performance. Providers can then customize and effectively direct treatment in patient populations, resulting in better, more cost effective outcomes for all patients and a proven cost savings of over $1,000 per patient per year,” stated Benjamin Bluml, SVP of research and innovation for the Foundation.

PSM Solutions supply healthcare providers with targeted feedback about disease specific areas for focus and provide links to patient education resources that may be helpful to more efficiently and effectively address those needs. This ensures that the most appropriate level of care and targeted information is provided to patients based on their individual needs, resulting in increased patient satisfaction and outcomes, according to the APhA Foundation.

As a part of PSM Solutions, the APhA Foundation is bringing together a network of healthcare providers to deliver patient care services. Current network partners include Kroger, PrescribeWellness, and SinfoniaRx. In addition, Scientific Technologies Corp. has partnered with the APhA Foundation to integrate the PSMC for Diabetes into its technology platform. The Foundation’s network partners are available to provide services to beneficiaries of self-insured employers and other healthcare payers interested in providing care options that include the PSM Solutions.

“Diabetes costs American employers more than 15 million workdays every year and accounts for more than $176 billion in healthcare spending,” stated Mindy Smith, executive director of the APhA Foundation. “Our PSM Solutions are backed by years in the field, peer reviewed, and proven to improve outcomes and reduce the total cost of care.” 
 

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