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RxConnects News of Note  

January 25-February 25, 2011

Mental Health
Want to know how the National Alliance on Mental Illness rates your state's services?  Visit:

Health Care Reform
Is there a reasonable alternative to the mandating insurance? Here are some ideas:

An explanation of how manufacturer discounts will work to close the Part D doughnut hole:

February 26-March 11, 2011

Diabetes meter/test strips resource

Enroll patients online for Abbott's Freestyle Promise at www.myfreestyle.com/freestyle-promise-program.html. Members are able to get a box of 50 test strips for about $25.

Medicare Off-Label court ruling
A judge held that the current interpretation of the coverage standard for drugs used off-label under Medicare Part D, is invalid. Since Part D began, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services  has not covered drugs used for off-label indications—drugs used for treatments other than those approved by the Food and Drug Administration—if the use is not listed in statutorily identified, privately owned and published drug guides known as compendia. However, Judge Harold Baer of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York ruled that the list of compendia in the Medicare law was not meant to be restrictive, but to be an illustrative example of materials that may be used to determine if coverage of a drug used for off-label purposes is appropriate.

March 11-June 10, 2011

Alternative medicine website

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, today launched a website offering health care providers access to evidence-based information on complementary and alternative medicine.  It includes information on the safety and efficacy of common CAM practices, including clinical practice guidelines, summaries of research studies and patient fact sheets.  NCCAM's Time to Talk campaign encourages patients to tell their providers about CAM use and providers to ask about it by offering free tools and resources such as wallet cards, posters and tip sheets.  See:  http://nccam.nih.gov/health/providers/

Interstate compacts offer new weapon against health care plan. 

Governors who oppose the national health care act have no shortage of strategies they are willing to try.  But another way around the controversial law may be emerging that, while it sounds far-fetched, theoretically could trump all others: a so-called interstate health care compact that would invoke a little-known clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Here’s how it would work: At least two states would agree to sign a joint agreement taking full responsibility for all health care policy within their borders. If the agreement is approved by Congress, the states that sign up would be given a block grant equal to the total of their federal health care funding for the prior year, including Medicare and Medicaid, with no strings attached.
Other states could join later. The states would then work together or separately to develop homegrown health care policies that they believe meet their residents’ needs.

Labels for health insurance plan
The finishing touches are being made on "coverage fact labels" that will list costs that insurers will cover for some conditions.  See:  New Labels Will Soon Help Consumers Choose Health Plans, on the Kaiser Health News website.

Helping Latino patients
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality launched a national advertising campaign encouraging Hispanics to get more involved in their health care and talk with their doctor about their medical concerns. Unless they are very sick, Hispanics tend to seek medical advice from acquaintances rather than go to the doctor, sometimes because they feel intimidated or embarrassed to ask doctors questions, AHRQ research shows.

The television, radio, print and online public service announcements seek to reduce health disparities by helping Hispanics prepare for medical appointments by thinking about questions to ask their doctors. Launched with the Ad Council, the Conoce las Preguntas (Know the Questions) campaign directs audiences to www.ahrq.gov/preguntas for additional tips and health information.