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Reports: Projections of newly insured Medicaid patients cut amid GOP resistance to health-reform law

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK – Only half of the uninsured Americans expected to gain health coverage next year will do so due to a Supreme Court decision that allows states to decide individually whether to expand Medicaid coverage to the poor under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to published reports.

Reuters reported that the government had lowered its projections of people who would obtain coverage next year, from 22 million to 11 million, adding that Republican leaders in nearly half of the states have opposed the Medicaid expansion. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 2.9 million uninsured people will gain private coverage through employers, individual insurance plans and health insurance exchanges.

The government also forecasted slower spending growth among newly insured people who obtain private coverage, including people who enter state health insurance exchanges. The marketplaces will start enrolling people at the beginning of October, and retail pharmacy chains like Rite Aid and CVS have stepped up efforts to educate incoming patients about them.

 

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CDC quit-smoking ad campaign generates 150,000 additional calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 Tips From Former Smokers campaign produced more than 150,000 additional calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a number that links callers to their state quitlines, according to a report in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The campaign also generated almost 2.8 million additional visitors to the campaign website, cdc.gov/tips. The website features information on the campaign, as well as information on how to quit smoking from the National Cancer Institute’s SmokeFree.gov website.

These figures represent a 75% increase in call volume and a nearly 38-fold increase in unique website visitors, compared with the four weeks before the campaign began. The analysis also found that average weekly calls fell by 41% and website visitors fell by 96% during the four weeks after the campaign ended.

The 2013 campaign’s television component included national ads in all 210 U.S. television markets and additional local ads in 67 of these markets. The television buy used a "pulsing" strategy in which the national televisions ads aired on a 1-week-on, 1-week-off basis for the first 12 weeks of the campaign, while the local television ads ran continuously throughout the campaign. The number of calls fell by 38% during the six weeks when the national television ads were off the air, compared with the six weeks when the national ads were airing. These findings suggest that a longer campaign with sustained broad reach could produce even greater benefits, including more quit attempts and successful long-term quits.

"The TIPS campaign continues to be a huge success, saving tens of thousands of lives and millions of dollars; I wish we had the resources to run it all year long," stated CDC Director Tom Frieden. "Most Americans who have ever smoked have already quit, and most people who still smoke want to quit."

The 2013 campaign ran for 16 weeks, from March 4 through June 23. It featured a variety of ads of real people who are living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities. The graphic ads show how the health effects from their smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke changed their lives forever.

A study published Sept. 9 in The Lancet reported that the 2012 Tips campaign likely resulted in 1.6 million additional smokers making a quit attempt and over 100,000 sustained quitters. It further showed the 2012 campaign added between 300,000 and 500,000 years of life to those Americans who quit smoking.


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Kroger raises quarterly dividend

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger’s board of directors on Thursday raised the quarterly dividend by 10%, to 16.5 cents per share, to be paid on Dec. 1, 2013 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Nov. 15, 2013.

"This increase reflects the board of directors’ continued confidence that our Customer 1st strategy delivers sustainable shareholder value," stated David Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. "Since we reinstated dividends in 2006, Kroger has returned more than $8.3 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases."

Kroger has delivered double-digit compound growth in its dividend since it was reinstated in 2006. The company continues to expect an increasing dividend over time, the grocer stated.


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