Hartford Courant Names Diversified Group a Top Workplace for 2017

Diversified Group has been awarded a 2017 Top Workplaces honor by The Hartford Courant. The Top Workplaces lists are based solely on the results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a leading research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement.

“To be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day—the employees,” stated Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics. Claffey adds, “Without this sense of connection, an organization doesn’t have a shot at being named a Top Workplace.”

“All of us at Diversified Group are honored to be recognized as one of the top workplaces in the greater Hartford region,” stated Brooks Goodison, President of Diversified Group. “In a time when health care is so critical to employers and employees throughout the U.S., we are extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated and caring team of professionals serving our clients.”

Diversified Group Named Top Workplace for 2017

Diversified Honored to Accept Healthcare Excellence Award

TriZetto AwardFor nine years, Cognizant and TriZetto have been honoring clients who use their technology and resources to achieve extraordinary results through their Healthcare Excellence award. Cognizant is a professional services company that helps businesses transform their operating and technology models for the digital era.

Each year, they announce the finalists and winners of the awards at their annual Healthcare Conference. The award recognizes organizations that implement TriZetto services and utilize those solutions to achieve innovation and excellence by enhancing the efficiency of operations, creating new programs or strategies to address market needs or discovering new and improved ways to better serve their members.

2017 winners were recently announced in the categories of excellence in innovation and operational excellence. Diversified Group could not be more proud or honored to be the recipient of this year’s Healthcare Excellence Award for Excellence in Operations! The image above shows two of our own accepting the award at this year’s Conference. Thank you to Cognizant and TriZetto for this incredible recognition!

At Diversified, we do all we can to provide quality, affordable healthcare plans and to design, manage and administer customized self-insured benefit plans that everyone feels good about. Visit our website to discover why Diversified Group should be Your Solution to Health Benefits!


New safety risks detected in one-third of FDA-approved drugs

The article below was published on May 9, 2017 by the Washington Post, written by Laurie McGinley.

A new study shows that safety issues often emerge only after new treatments have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (Andrew Harnik/AP) (Photo Source: Washington Post)

Almost a third of drugs cleared by the Food and Drug Administration pose safety risks that are identified only after their approval, according to a study published Tuesday.

The researchers said the study, which appeared in JAMA, shows the need for ongoing monitoring of new treatments years after they hit the market.

“We seem to have decided as a society that we want drugs reviewed faster,” said lead author Joseph Ross, an associate professor of medicine and public health at Yale University. That makes it critically important “that we have a strong system in place to continually evaluate drugs and to communicate new safety concerns quickly and effectively,” he said.

To win FDA approval, medications must be shown to be safe and effective. But many pivotal clinical trials used for approval involve fewer than 1,000 patients with follow-up of six months or less, according to the study. Safety problems often crop up years later after therapies have been used by much larger numbers of patients.

“No drug is completely safe, and during premarket evaluation, we are not going to pick up all the safety signals,” said Ross.

The researchers reviewed 222 products approved between 2001 and 2010 and followed them through February of this year. With 32 percent of the medications, they found, the FDA took some kind of action to deal with safety issues that emerged after approval.

Three of the drugs were withdrawn from the market. The FDA also required 61 new black-box warnings — the agency’s most serious safety alert, included in the drug’s packaging — and issued 59 safety communications to inform doctors and consumers about newly identified concerns. Some products had more than one boxed warning added or safety communication issued over the time of the study.

The median time for an FDA action was 4.2 years after approval, according to the study.

Eric Topol, founder and director of Scripps Translational Science Institute, who was not involved in the research, said he wasn’t surprised about the safety risks, but added, “the fact that it is one out of three of FDA-approved drugs is troubling.”

Part of the problem, he said, is that clinical trials often cherry-pick patients likely to produce the best results. “We don’t get a real-world representation,” he said.

He suggested that the agency consider granting new drugs conditional approval, then collect safety data from every patient to see, early on, whether a problem emerges. “Why not have a standard where we put every new drug under watch, and see if we could catch a problem before the drug is widely advertised?” he said.

The study showed that the treatments most likely to be flagged for safety concerns were those granted clearance under the agency’s accelerated approval program, as well as medications for mental illnesses and those approved close to the deadline that had been set for the review.

An agency spokeswoman said that “FDA performs post-market monitoring to identify new safety information that may impact product labeling. In general, the FDA does not comment on specific studies, but evaluates them as part of the body of evidence to further our understanding about a particular issue and assist in our mission to protect public health.”

Nonprofit Linked To PhRMA Rolls Out Campaign To Block Drug Imports

The article below is from Kaiser Health News written by Emily Kopp and Rachel Bluth April 19, 2017.

A nonprofit organization that has orchestrated a wide-reaching campaign against foreign drug imports has deep ties to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, the powerhouse lobbying group that includes Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Bayer.

A PhRMA senior vice president, Scott LaGanga, for 10 years led the Partnership for Safe Medicines, a nonprofit that has recently emerged as a leading voice against Senate bills that would allow drug importation from Canada. LaGanga was responsible for PhRMA alliances with patient advocacy groups and served until recently as the nonprofit’s principal officer, according to the partnership’s tax forms.

In February, LaGanga moved to a senior role at PhRMA and stepped down as executive director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines — just as the group’s campaign to stop import legislation was revving up.

Both PhRMA and the partnership have gone to great lengths to show that drugmakers are not driving what they describe as a “grass-roots” effort to fight imports — including an expensive advertising blitz and an event last week that featured high-profile former FBI officers and a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

The partnership’s new executive director, Shabbir Safdar, said LaGanga resigned from the group to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

“That’s why Scott’s not executive director anymore,” he said. PhRMA declined to make LaGanga available for an interview.

A Kaiser Health News analysis of groups involved in the partnership shows more than one-third have received PhRMA funding or are local chapters of groups that have received PhRMA funding, according to PhRMA tax disclosures from 2013 to 2015. Forty-seven of the organizations listed in the ads appear to be advocacy organizations that received no money from PhRMA in those years.

The Senate push to allow Americans to buy pharmaceuticals from Canada comes as more patients balk at filling prescriptions because of soaring drug prices. Prescription medicines purchased in the U.S. can run three times what they cost in Canada, data from the company PharmacyChecker.com show. In 2016, about 19 million Americans purchased pharmaceuticals illegally from foreign sources through online pharmacies or while traveling, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll; many survey respondents cited pricing disparities as the reason. Continue reading

What the new GOP healthcare bill means for employers

The article below was published on May 5, 2017 by the Employee Benefit Adviser, written by Phil Albinus and Nick Otto.

The House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act Thursday, which will be sent to the U.S. Senate for debate and amendments and then a vote. Here’s what employers need to know about the revamped healthcare plan.

It gets rid of the employer mandate

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) eliminates the controversial requirement under the ACA that employers provide health insurance to employees. However, this is unlikely to have a significant impact on most organizations, which will continue to offer health benefits to attract and retain top talent. “I don’t envision a mass exodus of employers offering their employees healthcare coverage,” says Chatrane Birbal, senior adviser, government relations, for the Society for Human Resource Management.

It pushes back implementation of the Cadillac tax

Like the original GOP health plan put forth in March, the AHCA bill that passed the House pushes back implementation date of the 40% excise tax on employer-sponsored health plans that exceed $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. This so-called Cadillac Tax was set to take effect in 2020 and will now begin on Jan. 1, 2026. The delay of the Cadillac tax is a relief for most employers, but fees and other forms of levies may replace it in future revisions of the bill, or after the law is passed, to help fund the Republican plan.

It gives states greater control over what’s included in health plans

The AHCA gives the states more power over what type of health insurance is offered in their domains. AHCA critics are concerned that states would allow carriers to offer stripped-down policies. However, the move could allow national employers looking to cut costs to opt out of the “essential health benefits,” or EHBs, that are required under Obamacare — such as maternity care, mental health and drug addiction treatment — and offer employees low-cost, low-benefit plans.

It gives states a say in pre-existing-conditions coverage

Pre-existing-conditions coverage, one of the cornerstones of the ACA, will now be under the guidance of the states. The AHCA still requires insurers to cover sick people, but it allows states to get waivers that would allow the plans they oversee to charge higher premiums to those with pre-existing conditions who let their coverage lapse.

It opens up HSAs

The AHCA repeals the taxes on health savings accounts and the limits on contributions to flex-spending accounts. Under the House’s GOP plan, individuals can put $6,550, up from $3,400, and families can put $13,100, up from $6,550, into a tax-free HSA. Like HSAs, the AHCA would remove the cap on contributions to health FSAs starting on December 31, 2017. Under the ACA, the maximum contribution limit was $2,600. The moves should encourage more employees to take advantage of these employee benefits.


IRS Adjusts HSA Limits for 2018

The IRS has released the inflation-adjusted contribution and related amounts for health savings accounts (HSAs) and HSA-compatible high-deductible health plans, or HDHPs, for 2018. These limits are tied to changes in the Consumer Price Index by application of the cost-of-living adjustment rules. The limits for 2018 are set forth below.

2018 HSA Limits

Annual HSA Contribution Maximum: $3,450 for single coverage ($50 increase from $3,400)
$6,900 for family coverage ($150 increase from $6,750)
Annual Catch-Up Contribution Maximum: $1,000 (for HSA-eligible individuals age 55 or older) – no change
HDHP Minimum Deductible: $1,350 for single coverage ($50 increase from $1,300)
$2,700 for family coverage ($100 increase from $2,600)
HDHP Out-of-Pocket Maximum: $6,650 for single coverage ($100 increase from $6,550)
$13,300 for family coverage ($200 increase from $13,100)

Not Legal Advice: Nothing in this Alert should be construed as legal advice.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, April 29th

PrescriptionIn a continuing effort to keep you advised of upcoming events of interest, Magellan Rx Management is happy to inform you that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The event will take place this Saturday, April 29th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is a great opportunity for those who missed the previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of those medications.

Since the first Take-Back day in 2010, over 7.1 million pounds of unwanted or expired medications have been surrendered for safe and proper disposal at over 9,000 sites. Click here to find a collection site near you.

In an environment where cost containment and quality care are constantly challenged, Magellan Rx Management is the smart solution.