Walmart Pharmacies to Stop Being Part of CVS Health’s Prescription Drug Network

Jan. 15, 2019
Walmart pharmacies to stop being part of CVS Health’s prescription drug network

Walmart indicated it was resisting efforts by CVS to steer consumers to certain pharmacies to have their prescriptions filled. A company spokeswoman said in an emailed statement that the retailer was committed to giving customers access to affordable health care, “but we don’t want to give that value to the middle man.”

“This issue underscores the problems that can arise when a PBM can exert their unregulated power to direct members on where to fill their scripts, disrupting patients’ health care,” the statement said. “Walmart is standing up to CVS’s behaviors that are putting pressure on pharmacies and disrupting patient care.”

Amid a larger debate in the U.S. over drug prices, pharmacy-benefit managers like CVS have come in for criticism from consumers, lawmakers and regulators for a lack of transparency about prices and rebates they negotiate with drugmakers, as well as how the construct their formularies, or lists of covered medicines.

CVS said the rates Walmart was seeking would have led to patients paying more for their medicines.

“Walmart’s requested rates would ultimately result in higher costs for our clients and consumers,” CVS Caremark President Derica Rice said in the statement. “We simply could not agree to their recent demands for an increase in reimbursement.”

CVS shares were down 2.8 percent at 9:40 a.m. in New York. Shares of the company, which is merging with health insurer Aetna Inc., have declined about 24 percent since hitting a 52-week high in January 2018.

CVS is one of the U.S.’s biggest pharmacy chains, with almost 10,000 locations. Walmart dispenses drugs in about 4,700 locations, and has flirted with getting more involved in the health-care industry. It has looked at offering wellness services and other offerings that will become a key part of CVS’s business with its takeover of health insurer Aetna last year.

Walmart has been looking to expand its health business for years. It recently hired a former senior executive of insurer Humana Inc. to lead its health-care arm, leading to speculation that the companies could forge closer ties. Walmart and Humana have explored ways to deepen an existing health-care alliance, a person familiar with the matter said in March. The companies already work together on prescription plans for Medicare patients.

The split won’t affect Medicare beneficiaries in CVS’s Part D drug plans. It also won’t apply to Walmart’s Sam’s Club stores, CVS said in the statement. CVS said the move won’t materially impact its 2019 results.

News of the split was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.
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Teen’s Service Dog Shot, Killed Outside of Family Home: ‘He was My Best Friend’

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Weekend Snowstorm Could Make Travel Sunday ‘impossible’

Jan. 15, 2019
Wintry and snowy weather is forecast to be a common sight across Western New York this week. (John Hickey/Buffalo News file photo)
Wintry and snowy weather is forecast to be a common sight across Western New York this week.

Chances are growing for a “major winter storm” this weekend, but the finer details are yet to be defined.

“There is a risk for heavy accumulating snow with strong winds,” the National Weather Service posted in its hazardous weather outlook.

Western New York dodged a significant snowstorm last weekend. The storm dropped as much as a foot or more of snow across parts of a broad swath of territory between Kansas City and Washington, D.C.

As forecasts hone in on the details of expected snowfall for the weekend, models suggest the track of this storm will again pass the Buffalo Niagara region to the south, but the snowfall won’t.
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8 Buffalo Priests on Jesuits’ List of 50 Accused of Molesting Children

Jan. 15, 2019

The Rev. Vincent  Mooney has been credibly accused of sexually assaulting two children – and impregnating one of them – while serving as a counselor and president of Buffalo’s Canisius High School from the late 1950s through mid-1970s, according to the Jesuit’s Northeast Province.

One of the children told Jesuit officials that Mooney raped her in his school office, got her pregnant, and she had an abortion, a Jesuit official said.

Mooney was one of eight Jesuit priests who worked in Buffalo area schools or churches who were included Tuesday on a list of 50 priests credibly accused of molesting children that was released by the Jesuit’s Northeast Province.

The other seven priests are the Revs. Cornelius Carr, Canisius High and St. Michael Church; Peter Conroy, Canisius High and Canisius College; Thomas Denny, Canisius High; John L. Farrand, Canisius High; Raymond Fullam, Canisius High; James Gould, St. Ann Church; and William Scanlon, Canisius College.

The Jesuit province paid a settlement to the woman who claimed in 2002 that Mooney had assaulted her between 1968 and 1970, said Mike Gabriele, a province spokesman. In a later meeting with the woman, she informed the order that she had become pregnant from Mooney and had an abortion, according to Gabriele.
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Opponents Take Aim at Poloncarz’s Active Social Media Presence

Jan. 15, 2019
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz maintains a diligent online presence. (News file photo)
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz maintains a diligent online presence. 

As Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz enters an election year, his opponents are raising questions about his pervasive social media presence and whether more stringent standards should be put in place to govern elected county officials’ use of social media.

Last month, his opponents in the Erie County Legislature called attention to a legal filing against the county executive that alleged “continuous false and defamatory statements” by Poloncarz against two people who had ownership interests in a local nursing home. The lawmakers argued that the County Attorney’s Office should not have to defend against social media remarks on his personal accounts.

On Monday, Minority Leader Joseph Lorigo sent a letter to the county attorney asking that he draw up a new social media policy for all county elected officials to follow. He told The News that Poloncarz should be “called out” for the way he mixes personal and professional messages on social media “totally unchecked.”

Local attorneys however, said it’s unlikely that Poloncarz’s opponents will gain any legal foothold against him and his social media practices. As an elected official, Poloncarz has a wide and protected sweep of authority to issue his opinions – on social media or anywhere else.

“It’s all nonsense,” said Paul Cambria, a noted local lawyer who specializes in criminal and First Amendment cases.
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Broadway Legend Carol Channing Dead At 97

Jan. 15, 2019
The Broadway legend was the daughter of prominent newspaper editor George Channing and his wife Adelaide.
The Broadway legend was the daughter of prominent newspaper editor George Channing and his wife Adelaide.

Actress and singer Carol Channing died early Tuesday at the age of 97 at her home in Rancho Mirage, California. Her longtime publicist B. Harlan Boll confirmed the entertainer’s death from natural causes.

Whether you knew her as Dolly, Lorelei, Muzzy or just Carol, Channing was a one-of-a-kind talent who captivated any audience. Her razor-sharp wit, gravelly voice and big, bright smile became the trademarks of a performer who originated some of Broadway’s most iconic roles throughout the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. Channing continued to share her gifts on stage into her late 90s, enshrining her in a class of Broadway luminaries all her own.

Harlan Boll said “it is with extreme heartache” that she announced “the passing of an original Industry Pioneer, Legend and Icon.”
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Study: Most Innocent People Need to Hire Thirty-Five Lawyers at Some Point

Jan. 14, 2019

Satire from The Borowitz Report

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Most people who are innocent of any crimes will still need to hire thirty-five lawyers at some point, a new study shows.

According to the study, commissioned by the University of Minnesota Law School, thirty-five is the “bare minimum” number of lawyers that an innocent person should have on retainer in the event that he or she becomes the subject of an entirely unjustified criminal investigation.

“We found that many innocent people are going through life without taking the basic precaution of hiring thirty-five lawyers,” Professor Davis Logsdon, who supervised the study, said. “They are flirting with disaster.”

“An innocent person who has absolutely nothing to hide should do everything in his or her power to avoid answering questions from investigators,” he said. “Thirty-five lawyers can really help you do that.”

Additionally, Logsdon noted, hiring nearly three dozen lawyers is invaluable because of the powerful statement it makes. “Nothing says ‘I’m innocent’ like hiring thirty-five lawyers,” he said.

Although some innocent people may balk at the unwieldy number of lawyers that the study recommends, Logsdon emphasized that thirty-five lawyers provide necessary protection against unforeseen legal complications. “If, for example, one of your lawyers goes to prison, you will still have thirty-four,” he said.

Logsdon acknowledged that, although every innocent person should definitely hire thirty-five lawyers, such legal help does not come cheap. “Legal bills for thirty-five lawyers can be very expensive, unless you’re a person who doesn’t pay his bills,” he said.

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Search for 2-Year-Old Spanish Toddler in Narrow Well

Jan. 14, 2019

Emergency services look for a 2-year-old boy who fell into a well, in a mountainous area near the town of Totalan in Malaga, Spain, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. More than 100 firefighters and emergency workers in southern Spain are searching for a 2-year-old toddler who fell into a narrow and deep well on Sunday. Rescuers believe the boy fell into the 100-meter-deep well after walking away from his parents. 

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Could It Be!

Jan. 14, 2019

by James Tricoli-Editor of the Amhersttimes

What if Mexico decided to build stairs on their side of the wall?

Looking Down A Flight Of Stairs-3896 | Stockarch Free ... 

Straight down and through the door to America.

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The EPA’s Latest Bad Idea: Spraying Streptomycin on Our Citrus Fruits | Commentary

Nathan Donley/Guest Columnist

As a scientist and former cancer researcher, I’m the family pusher when it comes to fresh veggies and fruit. And like millions of other American families, my family loves citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, you name it. So I found it disturbing that, under cover of the final days of last week’s holiday rush, the Trump EPA quietly proposed on Dec. 21 to approve the spraying of the medically important antibiotic streptomycin on nearly half a million acres of the nation’s citrus, almost all of it here in Florida.

We can only assume the Trump EPA chose not to follow the normal, transparent course of alerting the public to their proposal by immediately publishing it in the Federal Register – which tracks all actions of federal agencies – because it has no interest in what any of us has to say.

Above all, they want to steer clear of any input from scientists who understand why, despite citrus growers’ need to fight off citrus greening disease, the use of medically important antibiotics as agricultural pesticides is a short-term answer with dangerous long-term consequences.
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I’d like to give Alissa Shields a thank you. Alissa, who is on our Amherst ZBA BOARD, brought this important story to my attention.

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