Save $100: EARLY BIRD Summit Registration; Another $3B in Specialty Rx Waste?; Capitol News…

March 15, 2016

PrescriptionsWeekly Buzz: New Study Finds Large Cancer-drug Vials are Fueling $3 Billion in Waste Every Year

“Drug companies are quietly making billions forcing little old ladies to buy enough medicine to treat football players, and regulators have completely missed it,” says study co-author Dr. Peter Bach, director of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Center for Health Policy and Outcomes (as quoted by the New York Times). “If we’re ever going to start saving money in health care, this is an obvious place to cut.”

Related and interesting:

Drug Makers, Insurers Blame Each Other for High Drug Prices. “The rift between the insurer industry and the prescription drug industry exposes a conundrum. Who is responsible for the high cost of prescription drugs? Insurers say drug prices are too high, and drugmakers say insurers pass on too much of the tab for drugs to consumers.” According to Carolyn Pare, president and CEO of The Action Group, “While the argument posed in the article is interesting, this type of blame game misses the point. The ultimate payer is those of us who write the checks for health care. We simply cannot afford skyrocketing – and worsening – prescription drug costs. We will continue to push for system-wide change by uniting the employer voice and making our expectations known through our Specialty Pharmacy Action Network.” Read Carolyn’s blog, “Specialty Pharmacy Pricing: Will the Buck Ever Stop?”

It’s Patient Safety Awareness Week!

Patient Safety Week iconThe United in Patient Safety campaign culminates each year with with Patient Safety Awareness Week, designed to mark a dedicated time and a platform to increase awareness about patient safety among health professionals and the public. There are many links and resources employers can use to promote patient safety all year long. Click here to learn more. The Action Group continuously supports patient safety initiatives by offering things like the Patient Quality and Safety Toolkit, as well as regular blogs about how Minnesota is taking action in this area.

Action Group Annual Employer Benefits Survey Meeting March 30

Responses from The Action Group’s Annual Employer Benefits Survey are being analyzed in preparation for release later this month. Now in its sixth year, this unique Survey offers invaluable strategic and tactical plan design details, along with insight into health plans, prescription drug trends, wellness programs, market innovations, and more. All Survey participants are invited to join us for a meeting on March 30 to go over the results in detail. Click here to learn more.

Please mark your calendar with these key dates:

March 30 (8 a.m.-10:30 a.m.):  Final Report distributed at Survey Results Meeting (for Survey participants only)
Late April:  Final Report mailed to Survey participants unable to attend the meeting

Save $100! Summit Early Bird Special Closes March 25

Registration is now open for The Action Group’s 9th Annual Employer Leadership Summit on April 22, 2016: Turning Vision Into Action. Among the topics will be emerging Minnesota health care companies; how La Crosse, Wisconsin became the nation’s leader in advance care planning; ongoing health care purchasing challenges; and a panel discussion about The Action Group’s unique Care Delivery Learning Networks. We will feature national and international health care and benefits thought leaders, interactive polling, networking opportunities, sponsored booths, and lively discussions.

Save $100 by taking advantage of the Early Bird Special, through March 25. The event was sold out in 2015!

There are just a few booths left for sponsors. If you or a partner organization would like to sponsor an exhibit, please contact us!


March 9 Member Meeting Summary

There was a full house at last week’s meeting where members learned how to take more control over the specialty drug spend in their benefits. In addition to helpful discussion, the Phase II Specialty Pharmacy Purchaser’s Guide was released. Click here to view the meeting presentation, or to access the brand-new Purchaser’s Guide. (Log into the Member Center in the upper right-hand corner of our website. If you have forgotten your password, you may easily reset it.)


From the Capitol

State CapitolThe release of Governor Dayton’s supplemental budget led the news at the Capitol this week. The proposal included a number of items related to health care, including money to study the impact of a single-payer health care system, development of a Health Information Exchange, and direction to the Department of Human Services to pursue necessary federal waivers to expand the MinnesotaCare health program. Full details of the governor’s entire proposal can be found here.

The governor’s supplemental budget will have to be submitted as a bill to move forward. While the Senate may choose to pick up most of the provisions, the Republican-controlled House very well may not. Any differences will have to be sorted out in a conference committee at the end of the Session.

The Senate Health Policy committee also had a busy start to their week, hearing a number of reform-focused bills. Included among them was an extension of the state’s ability to utilize the All Payer Claims Database, a proposal to allow spouses of individuals with employer-sponsored health coverage access to MinnesotaCare if certain cost levels exist, and alternative open enrollment periods for qualified health plans.

We will continue to update you about the goings on at the State Capitol as the Session moves along.

Choosing WiselyNew Champions for Choosing Wisely

Michael Thompson, a principal for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), has accepted the position of president and CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health. At PwC for the past 20 years, Thompson is a national thought leader for business health strategies and health system reform. Read more here. The Action Group is a long-time member of NBCH, and our members benefit through event discounts, access to Action Briefs on a variety of topics, and unique networking opportunities. Learn more about NBCH here.

Thought for the Week

“You have these incredibly expensive [cancer] drugs, and you can only buy them in bulk. What’s really interesting is they’re selling these drugs in smaller vials in Europe, where regulators are clearly paying attention to this issue.”

Dr. Leonard Saltz, who leads the pharmacy and therapeutics committee at Memorial Sloan Kettering