In a push towards consumer health CVS Caremark plans to charge extra to members of of their pharmacy benefits management program (PBM) who fill prescriptions at a pharmacy that still sells tobacco products, AP reports.

The network would slap an extra co-payment on patients who fill their prescriptions at stores that still sell tobacco. That payment won’t apply to prescriptions filled in the tobacco-free network, which would include CVS and Target locations nationally, as well as other pharmacies that abstain.

CVS spokeswoman Carolyn Castel said her company developed the new network after several PBM customers asked for it. The tobacco-free network will only be used by the PBM customers that choose it.

The Wall Street Journal that these co-payments could cost as much as $15.

Some independent pharmacies, meanwhile, are crying foul. They worry that CVS will not provide a complete list of participating pharmacies, which would place CVS pharmacies at an advantage, since CVS and Caremark are owned by the same parent company and often benefit from joint promotions.

Today’s Question: Should consumers pay extra to fill a prescription at a pharmacy that sells tobacco?

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College athletic programs are facing a number of efforts to change the way they function, including a “pay to play” push.

The University of Minnesota hosts an event Tuesday night about the impact this type of reform would have on college sports.

On The Daily Circuit, we’ll discuss the issue with the University of Minnesota Deputy Athletic Director Beth Goetz. What are the possible payment plans up for debate and what are their implications for athletes, schools and businesses?

Today’s Question: Should college athletes get paid?


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Researchers say there’s plenty the beef industry can do to use less land and water and emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions. But producers may need to charge a premium to make those changes.

“If you’ve got decisions to make at the meat counter (or at a burger joint) and want to do right by the environment, you have a couple of options,” writes NPR’s Eliza Barclay.

“You could skip the beef entirely, which is what some environmental groups say you should do. Or you could go for meat with a ‘grass-fed’ or ‘organic’ label.

“But a handful of researchers allied with the meat industry say that that those labels don’t actually tell you much about how a producer is raising animals, nor are they really representative of the best environmental practices in the industry.”

Jude Capper, an animal sciences researcher-turned-consultant, has written that “niche production systems” like grass-fed or organic aren’t nearly as efficient as conventional, intensive systems. She says that’s mainly because conventional producers now know how to get more meat out of fewer cows, which ultimately means using less water and land per pound of meat than smaller, niche producers.

That’s a controversial point of view, of course. A lot of environmental (and animal welfare) advocates have railed against industrial beef production as dirty, resource-intensive and inhumane. It’s a huge industry, and even if it’s a lot more efficient than it used to be, its impact on the planet is still massive. Livestock producers have also lately been accused of ignoring pleas to better manage their waste and curb antibiotic use.

But since the beef industry isn’t going to vaporize any time soon — the U.S. produced 26 billion pounds of beef in 2013 alone — there’s a growing movement around the idea of “sustainable” industrial beef. [Read more]

Today’s Question: Should beef carry an ‘environmental impact’ label?

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For the first time Minneapolis is celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day. In April, the city renamed the holiday commonly known as Columbus Day: “We discovered Columbus, lost on our shores, sick, destitute, and wrapped in rags. We nourished him to health, and the rest is history,” said Lakota activist Bill Means. “He represents the mascot of American colonialism in Read more