Archive for October, 2014

New CVS Prescription Plan Benefits Tobacco-Free Companies – Like CVS

Friday, October 31st, 2014

CVS Health made waves in the pharmacy industry earlier this year with their announced cessation of tobacco sales. Now, they are drawing fire over a prescription plan that features higher co-pays for prescriptions filled at tobacco-vending pharmacies.

The plan, which has already been adopted by the city of Philadelphia, would give patients a discount as high as $15 per prescription if patients fill them at pharmacies in the “smoke-free” network including CVS pharmacies, of course, but also some local pharmacies as well as retail giant Target Corp. Customers at larger rival chains such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, which have chosen not to end tobacco sales, would pay the higher out-of-pocket cost.

For some smaller pharmacies, the plan could jeopardize their sales even if they don’t sell tobacco products – without sufficient marketing to advertise their smoke-free status, customers may choose to visit a verified smoke-free pharmacy to avoid the risk of higher co-pays.

CVS Health’s vice president of corporate communications explained that the network developed at the request of Caremark clients, but that hasn’t stopped a backlash from independent pharmacy associations and concerns that CVS Health will be reducing competitiveness if customers are pushed toward using CVS pharmacies for their prescriptions.

It remains to be seen whether more clients will sign on to a smoke-free network, but CVS Health assures that those who do will be provided with a full list of smoke-free pharmacies that their plan members can visit.

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Unpredictability a Challenge in Healthcare Staffing

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Healthcare is one of a few industries that never quit. Hospitals and nursing homes are open through weekends, holidays, weather catastrophes and emergencies, with shifts running 24/7. The need for constant staffing and a shift in priorities toward increasing profits has combined to create a staffing maelstrom in which unpredictability is the norm – sometimes, to the detriment of workers and patients.

In their new book Unequal Time, University of Massachusetts sociologists Dan Clawson and Naomi Gerstel break down the movement toward unpredictability as it affects different healthcare workers. Through interviews with multiple workers they determined that while most are experiencing greater unpredictability, the greatest impact is felt by nurses, nursing assistants, and other low-wage healthcare workers.

As mentioned above, the dueling priorities of constant staffing and showing profits lead many healthcare facilities to schedule the minimum possible number of staff for a given shift. When a nurse or aide becomes ill or is otherwise unable to come in, it creates a coverage gap that others must scramble to cover – there is no overlap of extra hands to help out.

Low-wage healthcare workers are often at a greater disadvantage. Demographically, nurses and nurse assistants are overwhelmingly female, with children, and may or may not have a support system in place to handle personal emergencies. Restrictive sick time and attendance policies force these workers to come in even when they are ill, as one of the subjects of Unequal Time shared with Clawson and Gerstel. It should go without saying that workers who come in while ill then put the patients in their care at greater risk.

While this book covered healthcare workers in a facility setting, home care workers often suffer from similar issues of unpredictability and low wages. However, beginning January 1, 2015 home care workers in most circumstances will be covered under federal and state labor laws governing minimum wage and overtime. (Workers can use the Department of Labor’s self-assessment to determine eligibility.)

Nurses and healthcare workers in some states are pushing for changes in staffing ratios, but healthcare staffing agencies can take a proactive approach with their workers by clearly communicating staffing schedules (and not changing them unless absolutely necessary) and implementing less stringent policies governing sick days.

Healthcare staffing agencies that need an additional boost in working capital to take care of their workers may find a solution in healthcare staffing factoring. Access immediate funding without taking on new debt, and invest in your workers with confidence. PRN Funding offers comprehensive healthcare staffing factoring programs to cover a variety of needs and situations – apply today to get started!

In Healthcare, Preparation is Key

Friday, October 17th, 2014

In the midst of confusion and concern about the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the United States, the nation’s attention is focused on the practices and protocols of nurses and other healthcare workers who comprise the front line in patient care.

However, Ebola is merely a high-profile example of the risks that healthcare workers face every day. There is the obvious risk of infection from a blood-borne pathogen through contact with bodily fluids, as is the case with Ebola. However, there is also the potential for injury from biohazardous materials, chemicals, and drugs. According to the World Health Organization, unintentional contact with contaminated needles affects approximately six percent of the global health workforce each year resulting in nearly 100,000 new infections.

Even less serious day-to-day interactions can cause illness or injury to healthcare workers – heavy lifting, patient altercations, and the transmission of far more common airborne illnesses among them.

The healthcare industry can take an important lesson from their current battle against Ebola, including vendors that provide healthcare staffing services to hospitals. While vendors may not have a say in the protocols that their clients have in place, it is their responsibility to educate the nurses and other staff members they employ so policies and protocols can be followed properly. In addition, invest in continuing training to keep nurses at a heightened state of readiness should any serious situation occur.

Comprehensive nurse training and preparation will pay off greatly with fewer days missed, greater nurse confidence, and overall healthier and safer practices. If your nurse staffing agency needs a boost in working capital to invest in your workforce, PRN Funding’s nurse staffing factoring program can work for you. Contact PRN Funding today to apply for immediate funding through nurse staffing factoring.

ACA: Employer Deadline Approaching

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

While mid-size employers (those employing 50-99 full-time employees) have another year of breathing room, employers with 100 or more employees are quickly closing in on a large Affordable Care Act deadline.

The ACA’s Employer Shared Responsibility provision goes into effect on January 1, 2015 for large employers. By that date, those employers must offer a qualifying health insurance plan to at least 70 percent of their employees and dependents. A qualifying policy must:

  • Be affordable – cost less than 9.5 percent of an employee’s salary
  • Provide “minimum value” – cover the benefits considered by the ACA to be “minimum essential coverage”

The threshold for policy offerings rises to 95 percent of eligible employees in 2016.

Employers that do not offer a qualifying policy will be subject to fines: for non-coverage, they will owe $2,000 per full-time employee after the first 30. In addition, employers will be assessed a fine of $3,000 per full-time employee who qualifies for a subsidy on the healthcare marketplace. MI Health Answers offers a simple graphic to break down the Employer Shared Responsibility provision.

While consultants studying the implementation of the ACA estimate that most employers will eventually comply or do already, there are still many business owners nationwide who are weighing the costs of alternatives to providing qualifying policies. Options include cutting personnel and employee hours to remain exempt or paying applicable penalties.

Some employers fear that they will face penalties if their employees choose other, more affordable coverage; however, the benchmark for determining whether a policy qualifies as affordable is the law and not the actions of eligible employees.

Is your company facing the healthcare deadline, and are you prepared to offer the required coverage to your employees? If cost is keeping you from complying with the employer mandate, healthcare factoring can provide the necessary cash flow to cover the expense. PRN Funding has more than a decade of experience navigating the healthcare industry and can help you access the working capital you need to cover all of your employees. Visit us to learn more about healthcare factoring and apply today.