CVS Caremark readies for swell of newly insured
CVS Caremark Corp. is positioning itself as a primary access point for many uninsured people who will be getting health insurance for the first time next year under health care reform, the company's CEO said on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
Larry Merlo, a Charleroi native and graduate of University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacy, said the nation's largest drugstore chain can have a critical part in improving access to health services while improving quality and reducing costs.
“Pharmacy will be on the leading edge of addressing the quality, cost, access conundrum,” the CEO told about 100 people attending a meeting of the Economic Club of Pittsburgh in the Omni William Penn hotel, Downtown.
Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Caremark employs about 2,600 workers in the Pittsburgh region at 56 drug stores, a mail-order facility and operations and information technology centers in O'Hara, specialty pharmacy operations in Wilkins and Robinson, and a regional business office in Swissvale.
In addition to its 7,400 retail pharmacies in more than 40 states, the company manages pharmacy benefits for company health plans and their 60 million members. And it is increasingly adding its own health clinics inside its drug stores to provide basic medical services.
It has 640 MinuteClinics inside CVS stores and plans to expand to more than 1,000 clinics in the next three years, Merlo said. The company also adding about 150 to 200 CVS pharmacies a year.
CVS and Walgreens compete for the title of the nation's largest pharmacy chain in the number of locations and prescription revenue.
That reach should allow the company to help provide medical services to the 30 million people who are expected to gain health insurance for the first time when the federal Affordable Care Act goes into full effect next year, Merlo said.
One of the biggest areas where Merlo said he thinks CVS can impact health care costs is with prescription adherence. One in 3 patients will stop taking their medication before going back for their first refill, he said.
Non-adherence to prescriptions costs the health care system $100 billion to $289 billion a year, because patients who aren't taking their medications get sicker and end up back in the hospital or doctor's office, according to a study published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
About 20 percent to 30 percent of prescriptions are never filled, and half of medications for chronic diseases — such as diabetes or high blood pressure — are not taken as prescribed, the study found.
Merlo believes his company can help increase compliance. It is running outreach programs to customers to make sure they receive refills and continue to take their drugs.
Medicine adherence, Merlo said, is “the biggest and most underutilized weapons in reducing costs.”
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or email@example.com.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Energy sector adjusts to global oil plummet
- Mind the time: Optimize last-minute shopping
- Agriculture prospects envisioned in Cuba
- Kim Komando: Can you get a virus on your smartphone?
- ‘Staff Pick’ is golden ticket on Kickstarter
- Drought opens Texas ranchers’ eyes to income options
- 3 tips to use up health account funds
- Makers of wine corks have lost ground to screw tops
- Coal ash sites have tainted hundreds of waterways, aquifers
- ‘Cause for Paws’ telethon helps dogs find homes
- Diane Stafford: Consider digital footprint