Addressing Social Isolation Among Seniors

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With studies showing social isolation can be as damaging to your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, loneliness can be just as dangerous as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

That's why addressing social isolation is a major focus for Aetna’s Medicare business and care managers, who are taking a more holistic view of senior health to help get them on a path to better health.

With studies showing social isolation can be as damaging to your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, loneliness can be just as dangerous as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
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“The most common challenge with our senior patients, honestly, is that so many of them have no one,” says Aetna Field Case Manager Sarah Fischer, RN. “So many of them don’t have families. One lady said to me, ‘I’m the only one left.’"

Watch the video to see how case managers are introducing seniors to benefits such as the SilverSneakers fitness program, community volunteering and other opportunities for social connection.

“We get them involved, get the area office on aging involved. There are senior newspapers, things like that,” says Sarah. “We just bring these benefits to the member and say, ‘Let’s get you involved in something.’”

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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CVS Health Launches Transform Oncology Care Program to Help Improve Patient Outcomes and Lower Overall Costs

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New precision medicine strategy uses the latest genomics science and technology to help providers identify and start their patients on the best cancer treatment, faster

Comprehensive oncology management program includes enterprise capabilities to help address significant challenges at every point of the cancer care journey

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced Transform Oncology Care , anchored on a first-of-its-kind precision medicine strategy for payors. The program uses genomic testing results at the point-of-prescribing to help patients start on the best treatment, faster and in addition, matches eligible patients to clinical trials. Transform Oncology Care also uses the Company's local footprint and unique assets to improve patient outcomes and lower overall costs at every point of the cancer care journey.

"Timing in cancer care is everything and when a patient does not get started on the right treatment it can result in progression and higher costs," said Alan Lotvin, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer, CVS Health. "We are the first company working to make the latest in precision medicine accessible to more patients and further empower informed treatment decision-making based on a patient's genetic profile to give them the best chance for successful treatment and improved quality-of-life."

Connecting Guidelines to Genetic Testing for the Best Treatment, Faster

The innovative precision medicine strategy, delivered in close coordination with oncologists, uses results of broad-panel gene sequencing tests and the latest National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) treatment and supportive care guidelines to help oncologists identify and start their patients on the most precise, appropriate treatment regimen based on their clinical and genetic profiles. Therapeutic regimens that align to NCCN guidelines, including those matched with the results of the broad-panel gene sequencing tests, will automatically receive prior authorization approval, speeding time to start of the therapy for patients. The strategy is enabled by an innovative collaboration with Tempus, a technology company advancing precision medicine through the practical application of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

"CVS Health is making great strides in advancing patient care, and we are thrilled to contribute the benefits of genomic testing to these efforts," said Ryan Fukushima, Chief Operating Officer of Tempus. "We believe this collaboration has real potential to personalize treatment for patients while also reducing the total cost of care."

Today, the majority of cancers when diagnosed early can be effectively managed, treated or even cured.https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2019/cancer-facts-and-figures-2019.pdf For patients diagnosed with late-stage cancers, however, many can benefit from advanced genomic testing, yet very few eligible patients receive this type of testing today. This can inhibit the start of the most appropriate treatment and result in cancer progression and higher costs. For these patients, a web-based provider portal, built into the e-prescribing workflow, informs oncologists of the availability of Tempus' broad-panel gene sequencing tests at diagnosis, which are more comprehensive than the single-gene tests that are used today. The broad-panel tests identify a patient's genomic variants and the therapeutic options specific to their molecular and clinical profile. The testing results also match and help support the rapid enrollment of eligible patients in local clinical trials through Tempus' proprietary platform, facilitating broader access to experimental therapies. In addition, the portal provides oncologists real-time access to the latest NCCN guidelines at the point-of-prescribing.

The program includes CVS Health nurse-led care management, integrated with payor's existing programs, to create a more personalized experience for patients and their caregivers and close existing gaps in care. In addition, payors can adopt value-based contracts that employ provider networks to drive high-quality care and lower costs. Transform Oncology Care also uses the CVS Health's accessible, local footprint, connected data and integrated systems to help better identify and intervene with patients who could benefit from preventive or screening services.

Transform Oncology Care is available to other health plans. Aetna has adopted the program for fully insured commercial populations and is rolling it out with participating Aetna provider networks in 12 states.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is the nation's premier health innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Whether in one of its pharmacies or through its health services and plans, CVS Health is pioneering a bold new approach to total health by making quality care more affordable, accessible, simple and seamless. CVS Health is community-based and locally focused, engaging consumers with the care they need when and where they need it. The Company has approximately 9,900 retail locations, approximately 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with approximately 102 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year and expanding specialty pharmacy services. CVS Health also serves an estimated 38 million people through traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including rapidly expanding Medicare Advantage offerings and a leading standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. The Company believes its innovative health care model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

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Helping Patients Better Manage Diabetes

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As CVS Health’s Senior Director of Transformation Stella Wong explains, diabetes is a difficult condition to manage. There are a number of things patients need to do on a routine basis, such as checking blood glucose levels, eating right, exercising, or taking the right medications at the right time.

“The list is literally hundreds of items long,” Stella says.

CVS Health is in a unique position to help. From new, innovative programs to in-store screenings at MinuteClinics and HealthHUB locations, learn how we’re helping people with diabetes better manage their condition and lead healthier lives.

From new, innovative programs to in-store screenings at MinuteClinics and HealthHUB locations, watch this video to learn how CVS Health is helping people with diabetes better manage their condition and lead healthier lives.
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“Our tremendous reach into people’s communities (and) our focus on new technologies will allow us to add an entire other layer of support and care for patients,” says Dr. Alan Lotvin, Chief Transformation Officer. “We have the opportunity and the ability to fundamentally reshape and augment the care delivery system in the United States.”

Watch the video above to learn more.

To learn more about our enterprise-wide approach to diabetes management and care, visit our Managing Diabetes with CVS Health page.

To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Fighting Pneumonia With a Toothbrush: New Program Is Yielding Results

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A woman smiling with a toothbrush in front of her mouth.

A first-of-its-kind CVS Health initiative to combat hospital-acquired pneumonia through better oral health is improving outcomes and receiving rave reviews from patients. Launched earlier this year, the Rush to Brush program has supported more than 10,000 Aetna members undergoing surgery with kits containing high-quality oral care products, education and a personalized ‘get well soon’ card.

“The program has allowed us to offer members a simple health care solution right at their fingertips,” said Daniel Knecht, M.D., Vice President of Health Strategy and Innovation for CVS Health. “It also shows the power of bringing key industry stakeholders together to solve a problem unearthed by member data.” 

Leveraging the information contained within surgery pre-certifications, the kits arrive in-home to members approximately one week before their scheduled hospital admission. The effort is designed to help reduce the incidence of pneumonia, the number one hospital-acquired infection and one of the most life-threatening illnesses patients can contract. 

Oral care is critically important in the post-operative setting because the mouth is filled with bacteria. “We want to shift the paradigm around oral health in hospitals. It’s actually more important to take care of your teeth and mouth when you go in for surgery, not less,” said Mary Lee Conicella, DMD, Aetna’s Chief Dental Officer. One study found disease-causing bacteria—especially those linked to pneumonia—present in 90 percent of patients within 72 hours of being admitted to the hospital. Those bacteria don’t just stay in the mouth, however; they are often inadvertently inhaled into the lungs.https://www.aha.org/2018-03-29-what-your-hospital-doing-about-1-hospital-acquired-infectionhttps://msphere.asm.org/content/1/4/e00199-16https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4414413https://aricjournal.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s13756-016-0150-3

Brushing one’s teeth greatly reduces the population of bacteria in the mouth, according to nurse-researcher Dian Baker, Ph.D., professor at California State University, Sacramento. “When patients brush their teeth, they’re basically taking their bacterial count from hundreds of millions down to just a few, and this greatly reduces their risk of pneumonia.”

Dr. Baker’s research inspired the Rush to Brush program, which is paying dividends in terms of clinical results, member satisfaction and reduced health care costs. Early results demonstrate decreases in the incidence of pneumonia among members who received the Rush to Brush kit when compared to those who did not.Data based on early observations of pneumonia claims within 90 days of procedure, not yet statistically significant. Additionally, estimates project that the program will yield substantial savings in avoidable medical costs across Aetna’s commercial and Medicare business.

A note from a patient who took part in the Rush to Brush program.
A note from a patient who took part in the Rush to Brush program.

And members love it. Seventy percent took the kit with them to the hospital, and 95 percent have expressed positive feelings toward the program and Aetna. Members who received the kit have been effusive, saying the initiative “shows that Aetna is caring and considerate” and that “the fact that Aetna took a vested interested in my recovery meant so much.” One member noted that the kit “took the guesswork out. All items were needed, all items were used – this was better than flowers!”

In addition to collaborating with Dr. Baker, Aetna worked with plan sponsor Johnson & Johnson as well as Colgate-Palmolive and IntelliDent to outfit the kits with Colgate Total toothpaste, a soft-bristled toothbrush, Listerine Zero mouthwash, disposable toothbrush shields and tips on good oral health.

The program illustrates CVS Health’s and Aetna’s unique ability to use clinical and member data insights to unlock members’ health care needs, allowing us to bring together the resources to meet our members on their road to recovery and better health.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Streamlining Prescription Onboarding with Specialty Expedite

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As CVS Health looks to transform health care and contribute to a better, more efficient system, we are looking at ways to leverage and improve the use of technology to improve quality of care and patient outcomes.

This is especially important in specialty pharmacy and why we’ve introduced Specialty Expedite.Specialty Expedite is available exclusively for providers who use compatible electronic health record (EHR) systems including Epic Systems and others that participate in the Carequality Interoperability Framework. All data sharing and usage complies with applicable privacy laws. Patients receive real-time prescription status updates only after providing consent to CVS Specialty. Our connected capability transforms prescription onboarding for our CVS Specialty patients, on average shortening the specialty pharmacy onboarding process to as little as three days and ultimately helping to get patients started on appropriate therapy faster.

Getting Patients the Medications They Need Quickly and Efficiently

For patients with complex medical conditions requiring specialty medications, getting started on their prescriptions quickly and efficiently is crucial to their care. But the process has not always been that simple, with patients sometimes having to wait as long as several weeks to complete the manual onboarding and prior authorization process.

Specifically, the process to get started on a specialty medication often requires physician’s offices and insurers to fax appropriate patient records and/or required approvals before a prescription can be filled, which can be time consuming but is a critical step to ensure that patients are receiving the most appropriate medication.

In addition, across the health care system, the Federal government is looking at ways to help enable and improve health information technology (IT) systems and as part of that, officials have even called for health care to be a “fax free zone by 2020.”

How It Works

Specialty Expedite works by securely gathering appropriate patient information, including insurance, lab work and diagnosis codes via a doctor’s electronic health record (EHR) system instead of sharing through fax. The process also cuts down on paperwork and phone calls, resulting in fewer errors and more efficiencies.

In addition, patients also now have the option of receiving real-time status updates via email or text, so that they can stay informed on the status of their prescriptions and any prior authorization requirements. Patients are also able to choose how they want to get their specialty medications — at their local CVS Pharmacy or though specialty mail serviceWhere allowed by law. In-store pick up is currently not available in Oklahoma. Puerto Rico requires first-fill prescriptions to be transmitted directly to the dispensing specialty pharmacy. Products are dispensed by CVS Specialty and certain services are only accessed by calling CVS Specialty directly. Certain specialty medication may not qualify. Services are also available at Long’s Drugs locations. via Specialty Connect. Research shows that when patients have more flexibility and choice, they are able to start their therapies sooner and adherence and satisfaction improves.

Helping patients with complex medical conditions get the specialty medication they need more quickly and efficiently through technology and solutions such as Specialty Expedite is one more way we are helping people on their path to better health.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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POLITICO Q&A with Dr. Lotvin: A New Front Door to Care

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Dr. Alan Lotvin, Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer for CVS Health, recently sat down with POLITICO to highlight how our recently integrated company is transforming the future of consumer health services and addressing needs in chronic disease care.

The conversation centered on the importance of advancing our health care system to meet consumers where they are and when it is convenient for them. According to Dr. Lotvin, “A lot goes into building a consumer-centric health care model. The first part of it is a recognition that we have to organize a health care system around and for the benefit and convenience of consumers.”

Here are four takeaways from his discussion with POLITICO:

  • Managing conditions requires expanded touchpoints care. It can be difficult to improve patient engagement with just three or four doctor visits per year — underscoring the importance of interacting with patients on a more frequent basis. According to Dr. Lotvin, “What we're trying to do is bring more personalized services into people's homes and communities at a point in time when it's convenient for them to interact with us, but also in a way that is on their terms. When they call us to fill a prescription or walk into one of our stores, they're primed to think about their health, and they tend to be very receptive to messages that are promoting health.”

  • Improving patient health is critical to help manage growing costs. According to Dr. Lotvin, the best way to lower total health care costs is to improve overall health. If we can help patients prevent conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, we are able to avoid the expenses that are incurred from managing these conditions over an extended period of time. Dr. Lotvin noted that we must first provide better access to more coordinated care and then take steps to ensure that patients are receiving their care in the most efficient setting.

  • Strengthening care coordination begins in the community. Dr. Lotvin shared the example of a diabetes patient to highlight the importance of providing coordinated, high-quality health care services all under one roof. Anyone living with diabetes should have several annual exams and evaluations. These patients are typically required to visit several sites and providers, which can lead to fragmentation. Through our new HealthHUB model, we’re doing more to ensure that these exams and evaluations can all be done within our own four walls and we can help patients identify the next best action.

  • Analytics are key to improving health care outcomes. Through analytics, we are able to turn insights into meaningful health care actions. According to Dr. Lotvin, the acquisition of Aetna provides the company with the opportunity to analyze health care challenges in a more holistic manner and then identify how we can address them at the community level.

The full Q&A can be viewed here.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Coram Pediatric Backpacks Help School-Age Patients Stay Active

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Coram, a CVS specialty business, provides high-quality infusion and tube-feeding care to patients where they live, work and travel. For younger patients, that list now includes where they play.

As part of enhancing the consumer experience, Coram pediatric patients who receive home parenteral (intravenous) nutrition (HPN) and enteral (tube-feeding) nutrition can carry their pump and nutrition in a backpack that’s sized just for them.

A photo showing Coram’s “Pediatric Pump Pals” enteral backpacks.
Coram Pediatric Pump Pals enteral backpacks.

Coram Pediatric Pump Pals backpacks enable children and teens to carry their portable pump and nutrition while they participate in normal activities while infusing.

About 1,200 pediatric patients use the parenteral backpacks, while nearly 1,600 utilize the enteral packs for school and other activities.

“The entire system fits nicely into these small backpacks for little ones,” said Karen Hamilton, Director of Clinical Nutrition for CVS Health. “They can be worn by the patient or hung nearby throughout the infusion.” As with all home infusion therapies, the intent is for the patient to be as mobile as possible.

“Our backpacks give young patients the freedom to leave the house and live their lives,” said Hamilton. “Gone are the days of being homebound and having to miss out on activities, birthday parties and other events. The backpacks are designed to be fun and not look medical.”

A photo displaying Coram’s “Pediatric Pump Pals” parenteral backpacks.
Coram Pediatric Pump Pals parenteral backpacks.

Providing quality infusion care at home and on the go

Coram CVS Specialty Infusion Services delivers high-quality infusion therapy services in home-based and outpatient settings to more than 183,000 patients per year. Services are provided at more than 90 locations nationwide, as well as through the largest home infusion network in the country.

Coram’s home-based care includes nutrition, delivered either intravenously when the digestive tract is not functional and necessary for patients to maintain adequate nutrition, as well as through tube-feeding. Patients may receive parenteral or enteral nutrition for weeks or months until their issues resolve, or may even need care for their lifetime.

The Coram Pediatric Pump Pals backpacks connect to a portable infusion pump that has been pre-programmed by the Coram pharmacy team to deliver the nutrition over a specified amount of time with each pump customized to the unique patient’s needs.

“I remember the days with the challenges when we had pediatric patients and no backpacks. Then we progressed to an initial mini- adult pack for these little patients,” said Wanda Rogers, Director of Pharmacy Infusion. “This is a wonderful advancement to have these young patients ambulate with color and fit into the typical daily activities.”

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Meeting Women’s Health Care Needs

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CVS Health works vigorously to expand access to high-quality, convenient and affordable women’s health care services through our MinuteClinic, retail pharmacies in communities nationwide and online or in the palm of their hand. As part of our focus on transforming the consumer health care experience, we are committed to providing women with access to the coordinated services and care they need to manage conditions and determine what is best for their health.

Providing Convenient Access to High-Quality Women’s Care

Women, who are often key in maintaining healthy families, access the health system more frequently than men, both for themselves and on behalf of their children. In turn, this means that their own health care can take a backseat to the needs of others.

Many women may find it difficult to receive care at a convenient time and location. For example, a survey conducted by Morning Consult and sponsored by CVS Health revealed that 90 percent of women consider the convenience of location important when accessing health services, while 85 percent consider flexible and extended hours important when selecting a health care facility.Morning Consult poll conducted from October 25-26, 2018, among a national sample of 2,201 adults

Our more than 1,100 MinuteClinic locations offer a full range of essential women’s health services. These services include access to birth control, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, treatment for yeast infections and pregnancy, urinary tract and bladder infection testing. Additionally, MinuteClinic providers also help women better understand their reproductive health options and provide referrals to primary care physicians or OB/GYNs, as needed.

CVS Health also launched a MinuteClinic University Health program, aimed at addressing the health care gap when young adults leave home for school. Our MinuteClinic locations in certain geographic areas near universities and campuses offer additional services for sexual health, women’s health and well-being screenings.

Increasing Patient Access to Birth Control

Ensuring accessible and affordable medications, including birth control, is a priority at CVS Health. For example, CVS Pharmacy patients can pick up prescriptions ordered through the CVS app on their phone, online, in person at CVS retail pharmacies, or they can have their medications delivered through our home delivery program. Additionally, CVS Caremark Members can receive their prescriptions through our mail order pharmacy, and throughout our network of 68,000 retail and mail order pharmacies.

We also work with public health advocates across the country to ensure that women can be obtain a birth control prescription from their local pharmacist. Pharmacists are currently allowed to prescribe oral birth control medications through Prescriptive Authority and Collaborative Practice Agreements in 13 states and the District of Columbia – covering 2,464 CVS Pharmacy locations. And we will be able to do so in 14 more states by the end of the year.

Affordable Access in the Community

Through community partnerships and philanthropies, we are able to address some of the health challenges women face locally. The CVS Health Foundation has partnered with a variety of groups who are on the front lines of improving access to women’s health services.

For example, we’ve established a multi-year partnership with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) with grants awarded to free and charitable clinics to increase access to care, improve health outcomes and lower overall health care costs. Today, 58 percent of NAFC patients are women – and they rely on 1,400 clinics nationwide for services including breast and cervical cancer screening, maternal and infant health and much more.https://www.nafcclinics.org/sites/default/files/NAFC%202019%20Infographic.pdf Since launching the partnership, the CVS Health Foundation has delivered a total of more than $4.5 million in funding to free and charitable clinics across the country.

Addressing Women’s Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer among women and accounts for one-third of deaths annually.https://www.heart.org/-/media/data-import/downloadables/heart-disease-and-stroke-statistics-2018---at-a-glance-ucm_498848.pdf To address the widespread impact of this disease, we help women understand their risk for heart disease and empower them to take the next best action for their health. Throughout February 2019, we provided preventive heart health screenings at no cost in which women learned their five key personal health numbers that help determine their risk for heart disease: total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index.

Additionally, our support of the American Health Association Go Red for Women campaign, includes a new three-year, $15 million commitment to life-saving cardiovascular research and education.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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Tobacco-Free for Five Years

Five years ago, we made the bold decision to eliminate tobacco products from all of our CVS Pharmacy stores nationwide, and we’re still the only national pharmacy to do so.

Not only did our decision lead to 100 million fewer packs of cigarettes being sold in the first year since their removal, but we also took our efforts beyond our stores, helping 228 colleges and universities become tobacco free over the past five years and committing $50 million to deliver the first tobacco-free generation through our Be The First initiative.

And with the significant rise in teen e-cigarette use, we’re now working to combat vaping, too, including a $10 million commitment in 2019 to support youth smoking and e-cigarette prevention strategies and education in partnership with Discovery Education and CATCH Global Foundation, and our pledge earlier this year not to work with advertising or public relations agencies who work with tobacco and e-cigarette companies.

Beyond Tobacco: Taking Steps to Transform Health Care

But our decision to eliminate tobacco was just the start. As a health care company now combined with Aetna, we’re taking even bolder steps to transform the consumer health care experience and help lead our customers, patients and the communities we serve on a path to better health.

On our shelves, customers now have access to more health-focused products and services than ever before. And we recently became the first and only national retailer to require that all vitamins and supplements undergo third-party testing to confirm they meet our high standards.

We’re also removing chemicals like parabens and phthalates from our store brand products and we took SPF less than 15 off our shelves.

At the local level, we’re building healthier communities with a $100 million investment in health and wellness, which includes programs aimed at helping people manage the most prevalent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Moving into 2020, we will expand our focus on tobacco cessation and prevention, particularly within the Medicaid program where smoking rates are considerably higher than among all adults. We’ll be working with Aetna Better Health managed Medicaid plans and together with CVS Caremark clients interested in creating or expanding smoking cession efforts for their Medicaid members.

At CVS Health, we know that health is a personal journey. And from tobacco removal to our many other health-focused services and offerings, we’re committed to navigating that journey hand-in-hand with our customers and patients to ensure that the future of care is one in which everyone can achieve their best health.

In 2014, we quit tobacco. Nearly 65% of Americans agree that our decision to stop selling tobacco reduces the risk of chronic disease. 62% of adults agree that retailers have an obligation to limit access to tobacco and e-cigarette products. 81% of adults support improving community education about the dangers of smoking.

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