CVS Health Completes $70B Acquisition of Aetna. What Does It Mean?

Samara Rosenfeld
NOVEMBER 29, 2018


CVS Health has completed its acquisition of Aetna almost a year after their initial announcement to buy the company.
 
Since last reported by Healthcare Analytics News™, CVS Health has received all 28 approvals from state insurance departments after New York blessed the deal on Monday.
 
The nearly $70 billion acquisition is aimed at curbing healthcare costs and improving customers’ experience, according to CVS. But various healthcare stakeholders have said the mega-company could hurt competition and patients.

>> READ: CVS's Long March from Convenience Store to Healthcare Giant
 
“By delivering the combined capabilities of our two leading organizations, we will transform the consumer health experience and build healthier communities through a new innovative healthcare model that is local, easier to use, less expensive and puts consumers at the center of their care,” CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement.
 
Merlo said the company will move quickly to introduce new initiatives, and that new pilot stores will open in the first few months of 2019.
 
Some existing stores will be remodeled as part of a hub-and-spoke setup which would offer larger, upgraded services. Other drugstores may refer patients to the hub, Merlo said.
 
Upgraded versions of CVS’s MinuteClinic will also be tested, in addition to health-plan offerings that will help patients with dietary and nutritional needs.
 
The Wall Street Journal reported that “CVS has said it expects to achieve savings of more than $750 million in the second year of its deal, from a combination of reduced corporate expense, integration of operations and cuts to medical costs.”
 
The company also plans to push care to lower-cost sites by reducing the use of emergency rooms and moving certain procedures out of expensive settings. CVS Health will focus on better managing five chronic conditions: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, asthma and behavioral health.
 
Many people opposed the merger, citing antitrust issues and patient harm, and CVS Health will have to prove the naysayers wrong by smoothly uniting two companies that have different business models and approaches.
 
Of those against the merger is the American Medical Association (AMA), whose president, Barbara L. McAneny, M.D., said, “Patients are better served by promoting healthcare markets. The AMA is committed to ensuring that competition in healthcare is not compromised.”
 
The American Antitrust Institute also claimed that the merger would “trigger a fundamental restructuring of the U.S. healthcare system.”
 
Despite some disagreeing with the merger, some believe that deals of this nature could help repair a system that many consider broken, while improving efficiencies, cutting costs and improving care.
 
Initially set to be finalized before Thanksgiving but held up pending state approvals, the acquisition is considered transformative, extending CVS Health’s reach from the pharmacy and clinic to health insurance.
 
“Healthcare delivery is changing before our eyes, and we are excited to be in the vanguard of that change,” said Merlo.

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