American Diabetes Month is Here! Free Lunch-and-Learn Tools and Speakers; Monopolies Affecting Rx Pricing…

November 3, 2015

Weekly Buzz: November is American Diabetes Month!

The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.

diabetesAmerican Diabetes Month® (ADM) takes place each November and is a time to come together as a community to stop Diabetes, one of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S.

To learn more about how you can contribute to stopping diabetes in its tracks, or to access free newsletter articles, fact sheets, and posters (available in English and Spanish), click here.

Opening Conversations about End-of-life Care

Among the key messages at our October member meeting was that talking about end-of-life care needn’t be difficult. The goal of the meeting was to increase awareness and understanding among employers about advance care planning and end-of-life care to enable them to support employees in dealing with these issues. Click here to see a new blog featuring our guest presenters. Employer members will soon have access to a lunch-and-learn PowerPoint presentation and other employee communication tools. Honoring Choices Minnesota will even provide a speaker to employers at no charge.


New Medicare Rule Authorizes End-of-Life Consultations

Six years after legislation to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a furor over “death panels,” the Obama administration issued a final rule on Friday that authorizes Medicare to pay doctors for consultations with patients on how they would like to be cared for as they are dying. Read more here.


Power of Monopoly has Role in Drug Costs 

“The usual explanation for headline-grabbing price increases in pharmaceuticals is a lack of effective regulation, or maybe the absence of an ethical compass in the executive suite.” In this Sunday Star Tribune article, columnist Lee Schafer examines how jaw-dropping pharmaceutical price increases are becoming increasingly common as  drug manufacturers take advantage of what is called a “functional monopoly” for their products. Read more here.

New Measures Evaluate Rates of Obesity Counseling for Kids; Depression Screening for Teens  

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and MN Community Measurement (MNCM) released first-time results from two new clinic measures that found most clinics are successfully providing lifestyle counseling to obese children, but less than half are screening adolescents for depression.

“These new measures are important because it is essential to catch and treat these conditions early, when they are most treatable,” says Carolyn Pare, president and CEO of The Action Group. “We know untreated depression in adolescence is linked to social isolation, academic failure, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, tobacco use and suicide, while childhood obesity increases risk for serious conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, depression and cancer.”

For study details, click here.

Save the Date! December 18 Meeting for Members and Prospective Members

We’ll be discussing topics that are keeping our members up at night during our next meeting for members and prospective members on December 18, from 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. at the Hilton Airport/MOA. Among the topics will be the looming Cadillac Tax, and the unsustainable cost of specialty drugs. For meeting details or to RSVP, click here. [PLEASE NOTE: The November 11 meeting has been cancelled in observance of the Veteran’s Day holiday.]


Complimentary Registration for Action Group Members: NBCH 20th Annual Conference 

This year’s NBCH Annual Conference, Achieving Health Care Value: No Purchaser is an Island, will be held in Dallas, TX, November 16-18, 2015. Action Group employer members are welcome to register without a fee, which is normally $850 for non-members and $500 for members. Click here to learn more and to register.

Thought for the Week

“We received overwhelmingly positive comments about the importance of these [end-of-life care] conversations between physicians and patients. We know that many patients and families want to have these discussions. Under the final rule, patients and families can have the discussions when and where they want – before patients become ill, after they receive a diagnosis of cancer or other serious illness, or while they are receiving hospice or palliative care.”

Dr. Patrick Conway, Chief Medical Officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services