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Issue 01-16-2012

Walgreens exudes confidence about future direction

CHICAGO — Despite the specter of its standoff with pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Inc., Walgreen Co. sounded a positive note at its annual shareholders meeting here. Executives said Walgreens is coming off a strong fiscal year — which saw the nation’s largest drug chain turn in record profits, its biggest increase in net income

Judge puts stop to cuts in Medi-Cal

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge late last month blocked California’s move to cut Medicaid reimbursements by 10%. U.S. District Court judge Christina Snyder issued preliminary injunctions in separate cases brought by pharmacies and hospital-based nursing facilities that were seeking to fend off the reimbursement rate cut by Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. In a

New CMS data shows Rx spending up just 1.2%

WASHINGTON — National health care spending increased less than 4% in 2010 for the second year in a row as Americans delayed drug purchases, doctor visits and hospital care, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, limited the growth of health spending

CVS Caremark probe is concluded by FTC

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — The Federal Trade Commission has ended a two-year investigation of CVS Caremark Corp. with no allegations of antitrust violations or anticompetitive ­behavior. The investigation did result in the company agreeing to pay $5 million related to the business practices of a Longs Drug Stores subsidiary prior to the acquisition of Longs by

High court to take up health care reform in March

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has set aside an entire week in March to hear arguments over the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care overhaul. All told, the court will hear five hours of arguments over health care reform. Legal historians note that devoting that much time to the arguments in a case is unprecedented

HHS to give states flexibility on health benefits

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said last month it would not define a single uniform set of “essential health benefits” that must be provided by health insurers for tens of millions of Americans. Instead, the agency will allow each state to specify the benefits within broad categories. The move, which

Wellness+ loyalty plan in spotlight at Rite Aid

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid Corp. is starting off the year with a loyalty program promotion and an initiative to support dieters. Through January 28 the chain’s Resolution Rewards promotion is enabling members of its wellness+ program to get $20 +UP Rewards on their receipts. And to encourage New Year’s resolution makers to get

Opposition to Express Scripts-Medco merger mounts

WASHINGTON — A coalition of consumer groups came out this month against the merger of pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc., joining an increasing number of federal lawmakers questioning the deal. The coalition, including U.S. PIRG, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League and others, argues that the

NACDS sets speakers for Annual Meeting

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The lineup of speakers for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Annual Meeting, already highlighted by former president George W. Bush, has been extended to include election analyst and University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato. The meeting will be held April 21 through April 24 in Palm Beach, Fla. The Wall

Rx should close ranks behind Walgreens

Much has been written about Walgreens’ struggle to flourish in the aftermath of the drug chain’s decision to discontinue its relationship with Express Scripts, one of America’s most important pharmacy benefit managers. The world’s largest drug store chain has been questioned, criticized, condemned, vilified, written off and second-guessed for having the temerity to disagree with