Drug “Charity” Means BIG Money; What to REJECT When You’re Expecting; June: Nat’l Safety Month…

June 1, 2016

The Weekly Buzz: Using “Charity” Programs to Cover for Drug Price Hikes

U.S. taxpayers support a billion-dollar system in which charitable giving is, in effect, a very profitable form of investing for drug companies-and one that may also be tax-deductible. 

Turing Pharmaceuticals last year purchased a drug called Daraprim, immediately raising its price more than 5,000 percent. Within days, Turing contacted Patient Services Inc., or PSI, a charity that helps people meet the insurance copayments on costly drugs, wanting them to create a fund for toxoplasmosis patients, a parasitic infection most often treated with Daraprim. Having just made Daraprim much more costly, Turing was now offering to make it more affordable. This is a story about why expensive drugs keep getting more expensive.

Don’t Miss Out! Add These Dates to Your Calendar:

National Expert on High-value Maternity Care Presenting at June Member Meeting

pregnancyDuring The Action Group’s recent Maternity and Infertility Learning Network, one of the important findings was that employers tend to focus on the few high-risk maternity cases that result in enormous neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) costs, rather than on the opportunities that lie in improving health for mothers and babies, while reducing costs by decreasing unnecessary C-sections.

We hope all members will join us June 22 as special guest, Brynn Rubinstein, senior manager for transforming maternity care at the Pacific Business Group on Health, shares recommendations from their Purchaser Value Network’s brand-new guide to help business coalitions and purchasers promote high-value maternity care. We will also hear from local thought leaders as we review what has changed since The Action Group released its Maternity and Infertility Purchaser’s Guide in 2014. So we can better understand the experiences of our members, please click here to take a brief pre-meeting pulse survey. Results will be used to assist in planning our agenda and we will share them during the meeting. Click here to learn more or to register.

Not yet a member but interested in this important topic?
Contact Sue Jesseman for a special guest pass.

Action Group Employer Benefits Survey Executive Summary Now Available!

cover-placematThe Action Group’s Employer Benefits Survey is the only resource that provides comprehensive health benefit benchmarks from Minnesota employers. This unique Survey offers invaluable strategic and tactical plan design details, along with insight into health plan vendors, prescription drug trends (with an emphasis on specialty pharmacy), wellness programs, market innovations, and more. The Survey digs deep into what is and isn’t working for Minnesota employers. The Executive Summary is available to all. Please click here.

A comprehensive report of findings and detailed answers has been distributed to organizations that participated in the Survey, which is open to members and non-members. Employers willing to commit to 2017 Survey participation will receive a complimentary copy of the full 2016 Survey results. Interested employers may contact Sue Jesseman.

How Action Group Members are Communicating with Employees

 Choosing Wisely centers around conversations between providers and patients informed by the evidence-based recommendations of "Things Providers and Patients Should Question." Click here to access free employee education materials.

Choosing Wisely centers around conversations between providers and patients informed by the evidence-based recommendations of “Things Providers and Patients Should Question.” Click here to access free employee education materials.

Employer members gathered on May 18 to discuss the essential business reasons employee health and benefits communications need to be an integral part of a long-term strategy to hold escalating health care costs in check. They also learned about high-value, evidence-based employee education materials available through Choosing Wisely. Results of the pre-meeting Survey have now been posted to the website. To view them, along with the meeting presentation, members may go to “See All Presentations” (right-hand column of the homepage) and select “Member-only Presentations” (it’s a large file and takes a few minutes to load). If you are not yet a member and would like to view the presentation or results, please contact Sue Jesseman.

Results of Pre-member-meeting Survey


Save the Date! Minnesota Bridges to Excellence Rewards Reception July 27

bridges-verticalThe Minnesota Bridges to Excellence (MNBTE) program advances care delivery and outcomes by rewarding clinics for meeting or exceeding a strict set of care standards for patients with diabetes, depression and vascular disease. Each year, we gather to celebrate the successes of those clinics providing superior care. To learn more about MNBTE, click here. Details about the July 27 rewards reception from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. will be posted soon!


June is National Safety Month!

NSM-Logo-2016Observed annually in June, National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. Action Group members have access to a comprehensive Patient Quality and Safety Toolkit. The Toolkit contains customizable articles, posters, memos, flyers, and a lunch-and-learn PowerPoint. Members who want to view and use these materials can login to the Member Center at mnhealthactiongroup.org. If you’ve forgotten your password, you can easily request a reminder. There are also many resources on the website for members and non-members, which can be found here.

Thought for the Week

“After Martin Shkreli raised the price of anti-parasitic drug Daraprim more than 50-fold to $750 a pill last year, he said he wasn’t alone in taking big price hikes. As it turns out, the former drug executive was right. A survey of about 3,000 brand-name prescription drugs found that prices more than doubled for 60, and at least quadrupled for 20 since December 2014.”

Bloomberg News, February 2016