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Congress passes OTC hearing aid legislation

Congress passes OTC hearing aid legislation



WASHINGTON — A new class of OTC hearing aids is one presidential signature away from becoming reality. The U.S Senate on Thursday passed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act as part of the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act on a vote of 94-1.

“Thanks to bipartisan support on this issue, millions of Americans will improve their quality of life with little impact on their pocketbook,” stated Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Technology Association. “Until now, nearly half of online U.S. adults – 98 million Americans – with hearing loss have been unable to access adequate hearing assistance due to prohibitively high hearing aid costs as well as the inconvenience and financial burden of doctors appointments. This legislation will create a new class of over-the-counter hearing aids costing roughly one-tenth the price of traditional hearing aids, making it easier for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss to afford the hearing assistance that they need.”

“This legislation will create a new class of over-the-counter hearing aids costing roughly one-tenth the price of traditional hearing aids.”

The legislation will make certain types of hearing aids available over-the-counter to Americans with mild to moderate hearing impairment. It also requires the FDA to write regulations ensuring that this new category of OTC hearing aids meets the same high standards for safety, consumer labeling and manufacturing protections as all medical devices, providing consumers the option of an FDA-regulated device at lower cost.

The bipartisan legislation was supported by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Reps. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

“This law will make a life changing difference for millions of Americans who experience hearing loss but can’t access the hearing aid technology they need because of high costs and excessive regulations,” Warren said. “By passing this legislation and making some hearing aids available over the counter, we will increase competition, spur innovation and bring down prices. I’m grateful to my colleagues – Democrats and Republicans – for joining me in this effort.”

“I recently chaired an Aging Committee hearing on social isolation among seniors, which revealed that hearing loss, if left untreated, may contribute to loneliness, increasing the risk of serious mental and physical health outcomes.” added Collins. “By making some types of hearing aids available over the counter, this commonsense legislation will help increase access to and lower the cost of these products for the consumers who need them.”

The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 received endorsements from leading organizations representing seniors, consumers and hearing health professionals, including the AARP, the Gerontological Society of America, the Hearing Loss Association of America, Consumers Union, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, the American Federation of Teachers, the Consumer Technology Association, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, the Niskanen Institute, R St. Institute, and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology.

Approximately 48 million Americans experience age-related hearing loss, including two-thirds of adults between the ages of 70 to 79. Yet only a small share of Americans with hearing loss – around 14% – use hearing aids, primarily due to their high cost. Hearing aids are not covered by Medicare or most private insurance plans, and out-of-pocket costs for a single hearing aid average $2,400.


Anthem Launches IngenioRx, New Pharmacy Benefits Manager

Press Release: Anthem Launches IngenioRx, New Pharmacy Benefits Manager

Anthem Launches IngenioRx, New Pharmacy Benefits Manager
INDIANAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct. 18, 2017– Anthem, Inc. (NYSE: ANTM), one of the nation’s largest health benefits companies, announced today it is establishing a new pharmacy benefits manager to be named IngenioRx. IngenioRx will begin offering a full suite of PBM solutions starting in 2020, which coincides with the conclusion of the company’s current PBM contract.

“As a company, we continuously seek bold, innovative solutions that achieve consumer access to high quality, affordable healthcare,” said Joseph R. Swedish, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Anthem. “During the past two years, we have been very clear that we can strengthen the value offered to the marketplace with an improved and aligned PBM model. Through the process of evaluating many PBM options in preparation for the expiration of our current contract, we determined that our scale and experience best position us to deliver an innovative solution, and the launch of IngenioRx will allow us to break through what is now a complex and fragmented landscape. It also positions Anthem to take advantage of a unique opportunity to grow and diversify our business within our existing footprint as well as nationally.”

IngenioRx will serve customers of Anthem affiliated health plans, as well as non-Anthem customers, with a seamless, integrated experience by taking Anthem’s new model to the national marketplace. The IngenioRx pharmacy leadership team combined has more than 100 years of experience in the PBM industry, which will be invaluable in helping to ensure a seamless transition for members.

Anthem has signed a five-year agreement with CVS Health, for services beginning Jan. 1, 2020. IngenioRx will combine its member and provider engagement initiatives and market leading pricing with CVS’ expertise in point-of-sale engagement, such as member messaging and Minute Clinic. CVS will also provide prescription fulfillment and claims processing services.

“This combination, paired with the clinical expertise, deep provider relationships and focus on customer centricity of Anthem’s affiliated health plans, will create a holistic, integrated approach to managing health and driving better outcomes,” said Brian T. Griffin, Executive Vice President, Commercial and Specialty Division, who oversees Anthem’s pharmacy business and will continue to be the executive champion through the transition. “In partnership with CVS, transitioning members seamlessly to our new solution will remain Anthem’s top priority.”

Transition planning will focus on ensuring continuity of member coverage as Anthem migrates health plan members. Until the transition, members will continue to use their benefits the same as they do today.

To learn more about IngenioRx, visit

Conference Call and Webcast

Anthem management will host a conference call and webcast today at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to discuss the PBM strategy. The conference call should be accessed at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the call with the following numbers. An investor presentation is available for download under the “Investors” link.

800-230-1092 (Domestic) 800-475-6701 (Domestic Replay)
612-332-0107 (International) 320-365-3844 (International Replay)

An access code is not required for today’s conference call. The access code for the replay is 431382. The replay will be available from 11 a.m. ET today, until the end of the day on Nov. 1, 2017. The call will also be available through a live webcast at under the “Investors” link.

About Anthem, Inc.

Anthem is working to transform health care with trusted and caring solutions. Our health plan companies deliver quality products and services that give their members access to the care they need. With over 74 million people served by its affiliated companies, including more than 40 million within its family of health plans, Anthem is one of the nation’s leading health benefits companies. For more information about Anthem’s family of companies, please visit

Forward-Looking Statements

This document contains certain forward-looking information about us that is intended to be covered by the safe harbor for “forward-looking statements” provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are generally not historical facts. Words such as “expect,” “feel,” “believe,” “will,” “may,” “should,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “estimate,” “project,” “forecast,” “plan” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements include, but are not limited to: financial projections and estimates and their underlying assumptions; statements regarding plans, objectives and expectations with respect to future operations, products and services; and statements regarding future performance. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond our control, that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied or projected by, the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include: those discussed and identified in our public filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC; increased government participation in, or regulation or taxation of health benefits and managed care operations, including, but not limited to, the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, or Health Care Reform, and the impact of any future modification, repeal or replacement of Health Care Reform; trends in health care costs and utilization rates; our ability to secure sufficient premium rates including regulatory approval for and implementation of such rates; our participation in federal and state health insurance exchanges under Health Care Reform, which have experienced and continue to experience challenges due to implementation of initial and phased-in provisions of Health Care Reform, and which entail uncertainties associated with the mix and volume of business, particularly in our Individual and Small Group markets, that could negatively impact the adequacy of our premium rates and which may not be sufficiently offset by the risk apportionment provisions of Health Care Reform; the ultimate outcome of litigation between Cigna Corporation (“Cigna”) and us related to the merger agreement between the parties, including our claim for damages against Cigna, Cigna’s claim for payment of a termination fee and other damages against us, and the potential for such litigation to cause us to incur substantial costs, materially distract management and negatively impact our reputation and financial positions; our ability to contract with providers on cost-effective and competitive terms; competitor pricing below market trends of increasing costs; reduced enrollment, as well as a negative change in our health care product mix; risks and uncertainties regarding Medicare and Medicaid programs, including those related to non-compliance with the complex regulations imposed thereon and funding risks with respect to revenue received from participation therein; a downgrade in our financial strength ratings; increases in costs and other liabilities associated with increased litigation, government investigations, audits or reviews; medical malpractice or professional liability claims or other risks related to health care services provided by our subsidiaries; our ability to repurchase shares of our common stock and pay dividends on our common stock due to the adequacy of our cash flow and earnings and other considerations; non-compliance by any party with the Express Scripts, Inc. pharmacy benefit management services agreement, which could result in financial penalties; our inability to meet customer demands, and sanctions imposed by governmental entities, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; events that result in negative publicity for us or the health benefits industry; failure to effectively maintain and modernize our information systems; events that may negatively affect our licenses with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association; state guaranty fund assessments for insolvent insurers; possible impairment of the value of our intangible assets if future results do not adequately support goodwill and other intangible assets; intense competition to attract and retain employees; unauthorized disclosure of member or employee sensitive or confidential information, including the impact and outcome of investigations, inquiries, claims and litigation related to the cyber attack we reported in February 2015; changes in economic and market conditions, as well as regulations that may negatively affect our investment portfolios and liquidity; possible restrictions in the payment of dividends by our subsidiaries and increases in required minimum levels of capital and the potential negative effect from our substantial amount of outstanding indebtedness; general risks associated with mergers, acquisitions and strategic alliances; various laws and provisions in our governing documents that may prevent or discourage takeovers and business combinations; future public health epidemics and catastrophes; and general economic downturns. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements that speak only as of the date hereof. We do not undertake to update or revise any forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable securities laws. Investors are also advised to carefully review and consider the various risks and other disclosures discussed in our SEC reports.

Source: Anthem, Inc.

Anthem, Inc. Contacts:
Investor Relations
Will Feest, 317-488-6057
Jill Becher, 414-234-1573

Local pharmacy reacts to '60 Minutes' DEA investigation

Local pharmacy reacts to ’60 Minutes’ DEA investigation

Madison Wade, WBIR 6:43 PM. EDT October 16, 2017


KNOXVILLE, TENN. – A 60 Minutes and Washington Post investigation released Sunday claimed Congress helped “disarm the DEA” from fighting the nationwide opioid crisis. 

The investigation reported a law passed in 2016 and signed by President Barack Obama made it impossible for the DEA to step in and stop suspicious narcotic shipments from ending up in pill mills. 

An ex-DEA agent came forward and said Congress, lobbyists and several drug distributors fueled the epidemic by allowing the bill to pass. 

Several lawmakers are also facing backlash from the report, including drug czar candidate Tom Marino and U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

The Washington Post said Blackburn, who is now running for the senate, was a sponsor of the bill. The report said she received $120,000 in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

According to our partners at the Tennessean, a spokesperson for Blackburn responded, saying “if there are any unintended consequences from this bipartisan legislation, they should be addressed immediately.”

Pharmacists at Belew Drug off Broadway in North Knoxville said the report seemed to address drug distributors instead of pharmacies. 

“It seems like they were focusing on entities doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason,” said Brandon Lock, a pharmacist at Belew Drug. “I think they were naming out the old pill mills that there used to be where you had doctors and pharmacists in one building inappropriately dispensing medications.”

Lock said they do not take the opioid epidemic lightly at their pharmacy.

“We have the ability to say no when anything comes across our desk. if we don’t think it’s appropriate we don’t dispense it,” Lock added. 

Lock they count every pill in every prescription more than once, and they also cannot simply order a surplus of narcotics.

“If a pharmacy orders more of a specific substance in a class then that order would be denied,” Lock said. 

They also run every patient through a controlled substance database that gives the pharmacist more insight into the patient’s previous opioid medications.

“It’s a lot of communication to make sure the right thing is being done,” Lock added.

While the opioid epidemic continues to affect lives and suspected drug overdoses continue to take lives, Lock said it’s important to triple check every prescription.

“All we can do is do our best to control it from our end,” Lock said. “There are not always good people writing prescriptions and you need to find those people and stop that.”

© 2017 WBIR.COM

Pharmacies Offering Prescription Delivery Services

Prescription Delivery Services: Could You Benefit From Offering This Service?

Offering Prescription delivery services could set you apart from the competition in tough times.  There are many challenges both patient and independent pharmacy are facing today. “One of the biggest threats to community pharmacy is the mail order pharmacy. Because they are owned by the PBM, they can essentially force patients to use mail order by refusing to pay for their medications. But they also gain many customers just on the notion of convenience – because they can deliver their medications to the patient’s door”.  Many independent pharmacies are asking themselves what they can do to compete.

Prescription Delivery Services may not be for every pharmacy so it is best to do your research on your community to ensure this would benefit both you and your patients. Independent pharmacies like The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy locations have been offering delivery services for years.

Tips and thoughts to consider before getting started with prescription delivery services.

Patient Benefits to Pharmacy Delivery Services:

Executed prescription regimen
Minimal effort

Many patients have conditions that don’t allow them to drive and pharmacies offering delivery services are critical for them to receive needed medications. Many pharmacies have found that by offering these services they have even begun to attract new customers.

Factors to consider planning for prescription delivery services:• Know Your State Laws and Requirements

  • Know Your State Laws and Requirements
  • Research Your Community: Would the surrounding area benefit from this service?
  • Analyze Your Patients
    • Do you have a lot of homebound customers in which other people come in and pick up prescriptions for them?
    • Do you have patients who have a hard time staying on track with their refills? Offering delivery service could help them adhere to their prescription regimen.
  • Survey Your Geographical Area: Can you service a rural area that has no pharmacy to service them? Are you in a populated area and could deliver to a whole street block and eliminate long lines in your pharmacy.
  • Set Yourself Apart: Are there other pharmacies in your area offering this service? If there is, you may want to offer it to compete with them but, if there is no other delivery service in your area this could be your competitive advantage.

“Our small pharmacy can’t afford to do delivery services”.

With today’s shrinking reimbursements, this may be a common thought. There is no way your pharmacy can take on an extra expense and this may be true for your pharmacy because prescription delivery services aren’t for every pharmacy. It is best to do your research on your community and have a clear plan but, before you write it off here are some tips that are helping other pharmacies incorporate this service.

Tips To Help You Integrate Prescription Delivery Service Into Your Pharmacy

1. Instate a delivery charge – a small fee may be a small price to pay for the ease and their items right to their doorstep.
2. Set a delivery service distance parameter.
3. Offer free delivery service with a required minimum purchase of over the counter products.