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After Buying Aetna, CVS Health Commits $100M to Address SDOHs

After completing its acquisition of Aetna, CVS Health is pouring millions of dollars into addressing the social determinants of health.

Social determinants of health, CVS, and Aetna

Source: CVS Health

By Jennifer Bresnick

- With its $69 billion acquisition of Aetna in the books, the newly expanded CVS Health is now investing heavily in developing and deploying new models to address community wellness and the social determinants of health (SDOH).

The company’s new Building Healthier Communities will benefit from a five-year, $100 million investment from CVS Health, the CVS Health Foundation, and the Aetna Foundation.

CVS Health’s community-based initiatives will leverage Aetna’s data analytics assets, chronic disease management experience, and established consumer relationships to expand the reach of resources and services for vulnerable populations.

“We believe the path to better health and a better world can be reached by creating a whole new health care model that's more local, affordable, and easier to use. And by strengthening our local support and community engagement, we can further improve the health of our communities,” said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Health, during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. 

“Our new commitment builds upon the exemplary track records of CVS Health and Aetna in supporting community-based organizations to ensure they have the most effective tools, resources and solutions to accelerate the improvement of health care for individuals and families across the country.”

READ MORE: CVS Health to Begin Important Work of Integrating Aetna

The initiative will offer more free health screenings and other resources to residents of neighborhoods where life expectancy is significantly lower than average, Merlo said. 

Experts will address critical social determinants of health, including opioid and tobacco use, to improve wellness and foster healthier communities. 

“I believe we are experiencing this kind of inflection point with health care – facing an opportunity to fundamentally transform the way the system works, making it better for consumers and building much healthier communities,” Merlo added.

“With Aetna joining CVS Health, we have the blend of business assets and a new business model that will allow us to bring real, meaningful change to the marketplace.”

The project will focus on three major goals, including improving access to affordable care, impacting public health challenges, and building partnerships with local communities to identify and address critical needs.

READ MORE: CVS Health Offers New Tools for Lowering Prescription Drug Costs

CVS will continue to build on its existing Project Health to offer more health and wellness screenings at no cost to residents of communities with restricted access to care.  Individuals will be able to receive monitoring for blood pressure, blood glucose, BMI, and cholesterol in an effort to prevent chronic disease.

Since 2006, the initiative has provided more than $127 million in free services.  Close to 90 percent of Project Health participants go on to follow up with their primary care providers and proactively discuss their chronic disease concerns, CVS says.

“We’re also developing new cost-reduction programs to improve medication adherence, avoid hospital readmissions and take advantage of alternatives to unnecessary emergency room visits,” Merlo added. “This will include timelier and more comprehensive medication reviews, as well as expanded services and hours at select MinuteClinic locations.”

“And we’re working hard to help ensure smoother and easier transitions between health care settings and the home. That means doing even more to make sure people have the durable medical equipment they need to heal and enjoy a high quality of life at home.”

The company will also work with partners to prevent chronic diseases, connect individuals with necessary services, and encourage awareness of public health issues such as the opioid epidemic, the rise of vaping among teens, and the use of traditional tobacco products.

READ MORE: Payers Form Coalition to Address Social Determinants of Health

Funding will support partnerships with influential groups such as the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and American Cancer Society to deliver patient education and necessary services to improve public health.

CVS Health will gauge the effectiveness of the industry’s efforts to improve overall wellness through the Healthiest Communities rankings.

Through the Aetna Foundation, and in collaboration with US News & World Report, CVS Health will share information on community-level needs and opportunities around the social determinants of health.

“By supporting organizations that are dedicated to enhancing important factors that contribute to the well-being of communities, such as safe outdoor spaces, affordable transportation, and access to fresh fruits and vegetables, the company's philanthropic efforts can have a significant impact on health issues such as the opioid epidemic, food insecurity and inequities in health care,” CVS Health said.

“The communities supported by Aetna Foundation grantees are already seeing positive outcomes, such as bringing new healthy food access points to within a mile of more than 1.6 million people and revitalizing public spaces to create new walkable destinations within a half-mile of more than 527,000 people.”

“There is no more pressing issue, in my mind, than fixing what is broken with the US health care system,” Merlo concluded. “We welcome the opportunity to work with others in the market, and with those in the public sector, to drive earlier interventions, more connected care, better health outcomes and lower medical costs – all centered on the consumer.”

“Ultimately, we’re aspiring to deliver better health care which in turn creates better communities and a better world.”

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