Posts tagged with "Kaiser Family Foundation"

Prescription for profits: As sales dwindled during pandemic, some pharmacies also offered pet meds

October 26, 2020

When stay-at-home orders began to spread nationwide, Shantelle Brown, owner of Hope Pharmacy in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood in Virginia, saw a rush, she recently told Fortune magazine.

Regular customers stocked up on their medications as they prepared to wait out the coronavirus pandemic. By the beginning of April, though, business had dried up.

One of the greatest ironies of the pandemic is that fewer people are visiting health care professionals—and that has impacted many pharmacies across the country. An August study from the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that the total number of filled prescriptions, as of late April, was down compared with January and February, but there were some signs of recent rebounding.

That initial gap was especially hard on small independent drugstores, including Brown’s.

Initially, Hope Pharmacy shifted to making hand sanitizer. The business distributed it to first responders at no charge and sold it to customers. The company vastly expanded its delivery business, as well, Fortune notes.

But as elective procedures were canceled, and apprehension grew about visiting the emergency room in that community, Brown knew she had to look for new ways to increase revenue.

One of the most successful initiatives has been adding pets to the patient list.

Before opening her own pharmacy, Brown worked at Sam’s Club, which included pet meds among its offerings while she was there. As she met with a strategic planning group during the early days of the pandemic, the idea popped into her head.

Getting access to the meds wasn’t hard. Many pets take the same medicines humans do for things like blood pressure and heart conditions. The trick was letting people know they had an option other than buying directly from their vet.

Brown’s not much for social media. She says she prefers a more “old-fashioned” way of attracting business, so she and her husband made up signs that people could put in their yards and flyers that accompanied deliveries. Before long, business picked up.

Hope Pharmacy, which opened at the end of April 2018, currently serves “800-something” people in the community, but since it began selling pet meds, it has been adding an average of two new patients per day. And while those aren’t numbers that would ping the radar at CVS, they’re huge for a small independent pharmacy.

“We had a couple of people advise us that we should partner with a vet,” says Brown. “I tried, but…I didn’t realize at the time how much vets were making off of pet meds. Our prices are so much cheaper, and we’re able to save patients quite a bit of money.”

The goal with this, as with the carrying of pet meds or other products that aren’t traditional pharmacy staples, is the same, though: build a closer relationship with the patient-customer to earn his or her loyalty. In the event that another substantial wave of COVID hits the country—or some other pandemic forces people back into their homes—those customers will be more apt to return quickly.

“In the pharmacy business, it takes a while to build a clientele because people are used to going where they go,” says Brown. “Our hope and goal is not to just get the animal—we want the whole family.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Democrats: Trump’s move to terminate Obamacare gives us a gift ahead of 2020

March 28, 2019

In a move that has appalled his own advisers, and alarmed the G.O.P. as a whole, President Donald Trump on March 27 began a legal effort to “essentially terminate” the entire Affordable Care Act ―including its heretofore sacrosanct pre-existing conditions protections.

About half of Americans—133 million—have a health issue that qualifies as a pre-existing condition. Under the ACA, also known as Obamacare, insurers have been banned from denying coverage for (or from charging more for plans that cover) pre-existing conditions.

And American voters have made it clear that they like it that way. According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation just before the midterm elections last November, fully 58% of Americans said they were “very concerned” that Republicans would remove this safeguard—and expose them either to higher costs or no coverage at all.

In fact, at that time, healthcare was top-of-mind for U.S. voters—and indications are that it continues to be.

According to a report by the Huffington Post,  Democrats are saying that the president’s extreme position on the ACA will matter far more to voters in 2020 than anything coming out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election.

And while Republicans have said for years that the ACA should be “repealed and replaced,” they are not so sure that the issue should be revisited at this time.

It comes down to this: On March 25, the Department of Justice asked federal courts to throw out all of Obamacare, not just one part of it, as it had done previously. If the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is weighing the lawsuit, agrees with the government, the matter will almost certainly go before the Supreme Court, which has already turned away two major challenges to the 2010 healthcare law, the Huffington Post notes. With two new Trump-picked justices on the high court, however, there is no telling whether the law would survive a third.

“This move by the Trump administration to take away health care will prove far more detrimental to the administration and the Republican Party than any gains they might have made by the issuance” of Attorney General William Barr’s letter summarizing the findings of Mueller’s investigation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York.) said on March 26.

 “They are literally teeing this up as an issue for Democrats for the next year and a half. They’re not even making a laughable attempt to save the most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) told reporters on Tuesday.

Vulnerable Republican senators up for re-election in 2020, whose seats Democrats need to win in order to take back control of the Senate, are likely to face additional attacks over healthcare following the Trump administration’s new stance on the lawsuit. But GOP leaders say they have confidence in their members to fend off attacks over Obamacare going into the 2020 election.

By contrast, the Huffington Post reports, G.O.P. senators facing tough re-election fights in 2020 said they support popular elements of the Affordable Care Act even as they continue to maintain that the law should be repealed ― a delicate rhetorical balancing act that failed to save many GOP members of Congress in the 2018 midterm election.

“I support coverage for pre-existing provisions, and Congress should act to make sure that happens. I think what we need to do is make sure we have affordable health care,” Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), who is facing a tough campaign, told reporters.

Only Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who voted against repealing Obamacare in 2017, criticized the decision to argue in court that the entire law should be struck down as unconstitutional.

“It is highly unusual for the [Department of Justice] not to defend duly enacted laws, which the Affordable Care Act certainly was. This decision to even go more broadly in failing to defend the law is very disappointing,” Collins said.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway select CEO for joint healthcare venture

June 21, 2018

The nonprofit joint healthcare venture announced by JPMorgan, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway in January has hired a CEO—Dr. Atul Gawande, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and at Harvard Medical School—who will start on July 9 at the headquarters of the independent company in Boston.

Gawande is described in the venture’s June 20 press release as “globally renowned surgeon, writer and public health innovator who practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.”

He also is founding executive director of the health systems innovation center, Ariadne Labs, which he and a team of leaders created in 2012 “to find solutions to some of the most complex problems in healthcare, including life-threatening errors in surgery, maternal and neonatal mortality; failures in end-of-life card; and fragmented and ineffective  primary healthcare systems.” Gawande will transition from his current position at Ariadne to chairman, after a new professional is recruited to take his role.

In addition, he is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and has written four best-selling books—the most recent among them, Being Mortal

“I am thrilled about this opportunity as it aligns perfectly with my personal mission,” Gawande said. “I have devoted my public health career to working with colleagues to build scalable solutions for better health care delivery in the United States and across the world. Now, I have the support of these remarkable organizations to pursue this mission for their employees and families in ways that incubate better models of care for all. And I will be able to do so while maintaining my own voice and continuing to enable Ariadne Labs’ powerful and complementary work.”

The three companies that are collaborating to create better healthcare for their employees in the absence of a fully government-funded solution actually already are self-insured employers, according to a report by Business Insider.

They have commented that they intend initially to focus on using technology to simplify care, but have not elaborated on how they intend to do that or bring down costs. One of the people briefed on the alliance said the new company wouldn’t replace existing health insurers or hospitals

“We’re already the insurance company, we’re already making these decisions, and we simply want do a better job,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told Business Insider in February.

The venture will be geared toward employees of the three companies rather than healthcare consumers nationwide, although Dimon said all Americans stood a chance of benefiting.

“We said at the outset that the degree of difficulty is high and success is going to require an expert’s knowledge, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in the statement. “Atul embodies all three, and we’re starting strong as we move forward in this challenging and worthwhile endeavor.”

A recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that a 51% majority of Americans support a national health plan, also known as a single-payer plan, while 43%t oppose it.

Research contact: pr@amazon.com

Medicaid work requirements put 6.3M Americans at risk of losing healthcare

January 16, 2018

On January 11, the Trump administration issued policy guidance that effectively ends Medicaid as Americans now know it— allowing states to place “punitive work requirements” on certain Medicaid recipients, according to the American Center for Progress.

Some states and the Trump administration have opined that the American Healthcare Act (ACA) Medicaid expansion is targeting “able-bodied” adults and seeking to make Medicaid eligibility contingent on work. However, more than seven in ten (70%) of those affected will be either caregivers or in school, the center claims, based on a recent Kaiser Family Foundation briefing paper.

New CAP analysis by Kaiser shows that at least 6.3 million Americans—including students, caregivers, and retirees—could be at risk of losing their healthcare. This includes nearly 640,000 people in the ten states that already have filed for waivers to implement Trump’s plan.

Analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that the majority—60%—of working-age adults who receive Medicaid already are employed. Of those who do not already have a job, more than one-third are ill or disabled.

The American Center for Progress states in a January 12 release, “Although these so-called work requirement policies may seem reasonable at first glance, in practice, they’re a way to strip away health insurance from struggling unemployed and underemployed workers. President Donald Trump’s actions are just the latest shoe to drop in his party’s deeply unpopular crusade to undermine Americans’ health care—including the highly  popular Medicaid program—and come on the heels of a tax cut that rewards the massively wealthy over working Americans.”

Research contact: rcollins@americanprogress.org