Taking Action Express: WOW Summit Photos and Recap; Open Board Position; Help Wanted; Capitol News…

April 21, 2015


Innovator’s Showcase Participants

The Weekly Buzz: Sold-out Crowd Gathers to Renew, Refresh, Reinvigorate

A capacity crowd of nearly 200 health care enthusiasts gathered on Friday, April 17, 2015, to immerse themselves in a day filled with inspiring presentations and conversations at The Action Group’s 8th Annual Employer Leadership Summit. The event was even featured in Saturday’s Star Tribune, with a follow-up article on Sunday about unsustainable specialty pharmacy costs. To view the presentations, photos, and meeting materials, please click here. We are grateful to all of our presenters and attendees, and offer special thanks to our Summit Sponsors, who helped make it all possible: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, The Burchfield Group, Novo Nordisk, Allergan, AstraZeneca, Castlight, Health Information Designs, Medica, Minnesota Community Measurement, PreferredOne, Teladoc, and VIVUS. Click here to view a blog by Brian Klepper and Carolyn Pare about the high cost of specialty medications, one of the Summit’s main topics.

187Call for Prospects: Vacant MN Health Action Group Board Position

Jeremy Zajicek will soon be leaving his position with Hennepin County and on our Board to pursue a new career as assistant pastor and school administrator for his church. We are grateful for his willingness to serve on the Board and wish him well. If you would like to be considered for the vacant Board position, please contact Carolyn Pare (cpare@mnhealthactiongroup.org; 952-896-5185).



Coming Soon! Specialty Pharmacy Care Delivery Learning Network Phase II

Specialty pharmacy has been called the “new gold rush” due to the large number of new drugs and the high demand for them, coupled with the fact that no one is responsible for holding drug makers accountable to rational pricing practices.
The Action Group’s Specialty Pharmacy Care Delivery Learning Network kicked off last October. As the group neared the end of its key informant meetings, participants unanimously agreed that they had only scratched the surface of specialty pharmacy issues facing employers. As such, the Learning Network has been granted an extension of six months to formulate collective purchasing actions.

A new report from the National Journal says presidential contenders will focus on rising drug prices. And Kaiser polling found that 76 percent of Americans believe the next health care priority should be to ensure medications are affordable.

Even if you were not a part of Phase I, if you are an employer member, you are invited to join Phase II. We will be offering a Specialty Pharmacy Boot Camp to get you up to speed on everything we learned during Phase I. For more information, please contact Carolyn Pare (952-896-5185) or Linda Davis (952-484-7970).

Help Wanted: NDPP Project Coordinator; Hennepin County Benefits Manager

Did You Know?

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

Minnesota Health Action Group. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is contracting with The Action Group to engage employers and insurers in four funded communities to make the National Diabetes Prevention Program a covered benefit for employees. To support us in this work, we are seeking a temporary, part-time Project Coordinator to create the employer section of the NDPP toolkit. Click here to see the full job description. Click here to see a guest blog about the grant by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Gretchen Taylor.

Hennepin County. Hennepin County is seeking a Human Resources manager with proven ability to use creativity and innovation to build on the quality benefit programs and initiatives that are integral to the core values of the organization. Duties involve planning and directing the design, implementation, communication and administration of employee benefits programs that exceed $200 million in annual expenditures. Click here to learn more.


Minnesota_State_Capitol_5From the Capitol

Last week, the House unveiled its omnibus Health and Human Services (HHS) finance bill, which was directed to slash $1.2 billion for the FY16-17 budget. Republicans achieve this goal largely with four items:

  1. Repeal the current Minnesota Care program and replace it with a tax credit system to purchase insurance coverage either through MNsure or on the private market (projected savings $500M).
  2. Investigate potential fraud, waste and abuse in Minnesota’s public health programs (projected savings $300M).
  3. Renegotiate Department of Human Services (DHS) contracts with health plans (projected savings $100M).
  4. Apply a 15 percent budget reduction to both DHS and the Department of Health.

The Senate omnibus bill is expected to be released this week and will look dramatically different both in terms of fiscal targets and policy priorities. Eventually these two bills will have to be reconciled in a conference committee, although right now there are early concerns over how that will be achieved.

Stay tuned! This legislative session will almost certainly go until the last day on May 18.

Thought for the Week

“It is currently the wild, wild west in drug pricing. I believe in markets, but this market is broken; it’s failing. Even for generics, the price is going up, rather than down, as we’d expect. And not just by two or five percent, but by hundreds or even thousands of percent.”

Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer
University of Minnesota Pharmacy Economics Professor