HEALTH

Report: Cessation programs fall by the wayside

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK According to a recently published Dow Jones report, state-funded tobacco-prevention programs quickly are becoming the latest casualty of constricting state budgets, prompting concern among public health groups around the nation’s progress toward getting adult smokers to quit.

 

The number of adults who smoke has remained relatively steady since 2004 — 20.6% of the population were smokers in 2009.

 

 

According to the report, the $517 million allocated by states for tobacco prevention and cessation in fiscal-year 2011 is down 9.2% from $569 million a year earlier and 28% less than states spent in 2008.

 

 

“There’s a risk of a setback," said CDC director Thomas Frieden, according to Dow Jones. "The data are very clear. The more we invest in tobacco control, the fewer people smoke, and that prevents illness, disability, deaths and healthcare costs."

 

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Citi’s flu care card pushes employers toward lower-cost retail channels

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Citi on Tuesday announced the launch of the Citi Flu Care card, a new corporate healthcare payment solution from Citi’s Global Transaction Services. The Citi Flu Care card is a payment service designed to help employers reduce employee healthcare spending by shifting the administration of flu shots from doctors’ offices or on-site clinics to more cost-effective pharmacy locations.

 

According to an examination in June 2010 by a benefits consulting firm, the average cost of a flu shot when factoring in the vaccination and related services rendered is estimated to be $80 or greater when dispensed at a doctor’s office. By using the Citi Flu Care card, the cost per vaccination is $30 or less.

 

 

“The Citi Flu Care card is designed to help employers keep their employees healthy by offering them an easy and convenient way to get a flu shot," stated Dan Miller, SVP pharmacy operations for Rite Aid. "It’s also a good way to get out the message that the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses."

 

Based on industry research, it is the first flu shot card payment product that does not require prepayment, and restricts use to flu vaccinations at more than 17,000 pharmacies and clinics nationwide, including CVS/pharmacy, Rite Aid, Target, MinuteClinic, The Little Clinic and any of the Kroger Family of pharmacies.

 

Until now, companies have relied on corporate on-site health providers or doctor visits for flu shot disbursement, Citi noted. With the Citi Flu Care card, employers can direct vaccinations toward lower-cost retail channels, significantly reducing the average cost per vaccination by 63%. This means substantial and immediate savings for the company and a convenient, no-cost alternative to the employee.

 

 

"For nearly 14 years, Citi has been pioneering corporate payment solutions for a wide array of payment needs, from payroll and incentives to benefits and rebates," stated Paul Simpson, global head of treasury and trade solutions, global transaction services at Citi. "Now, we’re revolutionizing how individuals get their flu shots, providing greater ease, flexibility and access. It’s incredibly exciting to think about the impact this could have on the health and productivity of individuals and our economy as a whole. We’re excited to think about the other applications this product will have in market."

 

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CDC, Brickfish launch ‘The Flu Ends With U’

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have signed with Brickfish to launch a social awareness program around the importance of getting the flu vaccine for the 2010-2011 flu season, Brickfish announced Tuesday.

 

The program, “The Flu Ends With U,” asks consumers for their help in creating public service announcements to assist in getting the word out via online and social media.

 

 

“We were thrilled to partner with the CDC to help them harness the power of social media for the greater good and to drive awareness of the flu vaccine,” stated Nichole Goodyear, CEO of Brickfish. “By utilizing the Brickfish platform, the CDC will be able to track in real time the depth and breadth of the awareness they are spreading.”

 

 

The CDC’s “The Flu Ends With U” social awareness program ends Dec. 20. For complete details, visit Brickfish.com/Lifestyles/TheFluEndsWithU.

 

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