Taking Action Express: 5 Ways to Manage Specialty Rx Costs; Health Care: U.S. Economy Tapeworm? Coordinator Named; Register! MNBTE Cocktail Reception; Large Majority Say Rx Prices Too High

June 23, 2015

5ad911a5-adf8-4aa5-a710-61baac7578ca copyWeekly Buzz: Action Group Featured in Employee Benefit News

This special slideshow feature from Employee Benefit News, 5 Ways to Help Manage Specialty Drug Costs, shows how Action Group members are working together to find sustainable solutions.

“Prices are soaring for specialty drugs used to treat critical illnesses such as cancer, Hepatitis C, and multiple sclerosis, as well as more common conditions like high cholesterol. Right now, employers are largely bearing the brunt of the cost, and health care experts and leading employer organizations like the Minnesota Health Action Group are looking for collaborative, sustainable, solutions to this challenging situation.”



739210cc-8220-4005-acd5-6011d3c85900 copyMore Health Care News
  • Investment guru, Warren Buffet, calls the U.S. health care system a “tapeworm in the digestive tract of the U.S. Economy” in this LA Times article.
  • This WSJ article shows how one of the nation’s top cancer hospitals challenges the pharmaceutical industry to adopt a rational approach to drug pricing.
  • Cancer doctors are offering a way to compare medicines, including by cost. Read more in this NY Times article.




Nayila Yaro, NDPP Project Coordinator

Nayila Yaro, NDPP Project Coordinator

Action Group Selects NDPP Project Coordinator

In collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), The Action Group will be engaging employers and insurers in four funded communities to help them build and create tools to prevent diabetes, optimizing the success of the National Diabetes Prevention Program. To support us in this work, we have hired a part-time Project Coordinator, Nayila Yaro. Nayila is a Business Law and Business Communications (BBA) graduate from the University of St. Thomas, and a recent UST MBA graduate, with emphases in Organizational Development and Change Management.

“I am very excited to contribute to diabetes prevention initiatives throughout Minnesota,” says Nayila. “With proper education, consistent awareness, and behavior change, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. We need to help those at risk become proactive about this chronic and costly disease.”

054d971a-b42e-4f27-bee3-0d7eadf48597Save the Date! All Members Invited to Cocktail Reception July 15

The 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. These conditions are known to be primary drivers of health care costs.

Each year, we host a cocktail reception to celebrate the successes of those clinics providing superior care. All Action Group members are invited to attend this recognition event, whether or not they participate in MNBTE. To learn more about MNBTE, click here. To learn more about the recognition event, click here.



ows_143086680421835Large Majority Say Prescription Drug Prices are too High

With so much public outcry about the high cost of prescription drugs and the debate about who should pay for them, this month’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll focuses on the issue. Nearly three-quarters of the public think that the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable. Americans place much of the blame with the drug companies saying they set prices too high and that company profits are a major factor in drug pricing. See full results here.


VitalSigns_LaunchGraphicThe Importance of Performance Metrics

The push for standardization in performance metrics has been a primary goal of The Action Group since its inception. As a very real and current example, The Action Group was instrumental in getting performance metrics used in the MN Bridges to Excellence/Quality Incentive Payment System (QIPS) programs aligned across the all payers in the Minnesota marketplace. “We have seen the benefit of increased signal strength and support in creating clear performance objectives,” says Carolyn Pare, president and CEO of The Action Group. “Outcomes have consistently improved.”

Still, with the thousands of measures in use today to assess health and health care in the U.S., their effectiveness in improving health system performance is limited.

In VITAL SIGNS: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) proposes a streamlined set of 15 standardized mea­sures. This streamlined set of measures could provide consistent benchmarks for health progress across the nation and improve system performance in the highest-priority areas.

June is National Safety Month!

The spring 2015 Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Scores are now available! Leapfrog Group offers tools and resources exclusively for employers and purchasers, found here.
National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. The Action Group is featuring patient quality and safety initiatives it supports in its newsletters this month.

Measuring Hospital Performance and Patient Safety

Approximately 400 people die every day because of a preventable hospital error – the equivalent of a jet crashing every day and killing all aboard. Information on the quality of the care that a hospital provides is critically important when people are deciding where they should receive non-emergency hospital care. Very few people, however, know what information they should be looking for and where to find it.

The Leapfrog Group is an employer-driven initiative that aims to “trigger giant leaps in the safety, quality and affordability of health care.” Employers, as purchasers of health care, provide essential market reinforcement for the quality and safety of health care. The Action Group was a founding member of The Leapfrog Group when it was established in 2000. Minnesota was one of six regions to roll out the Leapfrog Hospital Survey with the Minnesota Health Action Group serving as the Regional Rollout Leader.

Help Wanted: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MN; University of MN

Did you Know?

Action Group members may post job openings in fyi and Express at no cost. Simply send your request to Sue Jesseman.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Blue Cross is seeking a senior benefits analyst who will be responsible for the design of cost-effective financial benefit plans, programs and policies to drive attraction and retention of employees and executives in support of Blue Cross’ strategic plan. This position also ensures plan compliance with all federal, state and local regulations. Click here to see the full job description.

University of Minnesota. The U of MN manages its own self-insured health care program for employees and dependents and is currently seeking a financial professional with experience in health programs to act as the primary resource on all financial aspects of the University’s benefits programs. Additional analytic experience in the areas of general business, human resources, and HRMS (PeopleSoft preferred) is a strong consideration. Click here and search for Job ID 300203 to see the full job description.

Thought for the Week

“Having prediabetes means your blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. But, nearly 90 percent of adults who have prediabetes don’t know they have it. More than 86 million American Adults – or one out of three – have prediabetes. People who have prediabetes and don’t lose weight or increase physical activity are likely to develop type 2 diabetes within five years.”

National Diabetes Prevention Program