More than 4 out of 5 Aetna Medicare members in 4 star-rated plans or higher for 2021

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Plans help provide access to high-quality care for members across the nation

HARTFORD, Conn. — For the seventh consecutive year, Aetna® , a CVS Health® company (NYSE: CVS), announced its 2021 Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plans outpace the Medicare Advantage industry in the percentage of members in plans rated 4 stars or higher (out of 5 stars) by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Star Ratings data for 2021 contracts show 83 percent of Aetna MAPD members are currently enrolled in 4 star-rated plans or higher, compared to 77 percent for the industry.High-Quality Care for Medicare Beneficiaries Continues as Medicare Health and Drug Plans Receive Star Ratings, October 8, 2020. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/high-quality-care-medicare-beneficiaries-continues-medicare-health-and-drug-plans-receive-star

"This year's Star Ratings demonstrate our consistency in bringing quality and value to our members," said Christopher Ciano, president of Aetna Medicare. "Now more than ever given the COVID-19 pandemic, we're unrelenting in our focus on the total health of our members and making sure they have access to quality care that's affordable, safe and close to home. We work closely with our physician partners and community organizations to help our members age and thrive in the comfort and safety of their homes, especially during these uncertain times."

Aetna 4.5-star rated contracts:

  • H2663 Coventry Health Care of Missouri, Inc. (AR, IL, KS, MO, OK HMOs)

  • H3959 Aetna Health Inc. (PA HMO)

  • H3597 Aetna Health Inc. (ME HMO)

  • H5522 Health Assurance Pennsylvania, Inc. (PA PPO)

  • H7301 Coventry Health Care of Illinois (IL PPO)

Aetna 4-star rated contracts:

  • H1609 Aetna Health Inc. (FL/IA HMOs)

  • H5521 Aetna Life Insurance Company (AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MS, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, UT, VA, WA, WI, WY PPOs)

  • H5793 Aetna Health Inc. (CT HMO)

  • H7149 Aetna Health Inc. (NE HMO)

CMS' Medicare Star Ratings rank the performance and quality of Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plans to help beneficiaries and their families compare plans. Medicare Advantage plans are rated on how well they perform on five different categories:

  • Staying healthy

  • Managing chronic (long-term) conditions

  • Member experience with the health plan

  • Member complaints

  • Health plan customer service

MAPD plans are also rated on how well they perform on three additional categories:

  • Drug plan customer service

  • Member experience with drug plan

  • Drug safety

Aetna Medicare Advantage and SilverScript prescription drug plans are available to Medicare beneficiaries for selection during the Annual Enrollment Period, which starts on October 15, 2020, and runs through December 7, 2020. Enrollment becomes effective on January 1, 2021.

The star ratings are posted at www.medicare.gov. Visit AetnaMedicare.com to learn more about Aetna's 2021 Medicare plans or call toll-free at 1-855-335-1407 (TTY: 711). Hours are from 8 AM to 8 PM, local time, seven days a week. A licensed agent will answer your call.

NOTE: Information in this release is based on 2021 star ratings data published by CMS on October 8, 2020, and Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plan enrollment as of September 2020.

About Aetna

Aetna, a CVS Health business, serves an estimated 34 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers' compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna's customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, visit www.aetna.com and explore how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world.

Aetna Medicare is a HMO, PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Our SNPs also have contracts with State Medicaid programs. Enrollment in our plans depends on contract renewal. See Evidence of Coverage for a complete description of plan benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Plan features and availability may vary by service area.

SilverScript is a Prescription Drug Plan with a Medicare contract marketed through Aetna Medicare. Enrollment in SilverScript depends on contract renewal.

Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system.

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Contacts

Media contact
Ethan Slavin

860-273-6095
SlavinE@aetna.com

Investor contact
Katie Durant
401-770-6442
katherine.durant@cvshealth.com

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CVS Health expands COVID-19 testing services with plans to add nearly 1,000 rapid-result test sites at select CVS Pharmacy locations

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Rapid-result testing enables symptomatic patients who test negative for COVID-19 to access testing and care for influenza and other seasonal illnesses at MinuteClinic

Rapid-result testing option also available through Return Ready, the company's comprehensive COVID-19 testing solution for employers and universities

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — As part of CVS Health's (NYSE: CVS) ongoing effort to increase access to COVID-19 testing and help slow the spread of the virus, the company today announced plans to expand COVID-19 testing services currently offered at select CVS Pharmacy locations to include rapid-result testing at nearly 1,000 sites by the end of the year.

Rapid-result COVID-19 diagnostic tests are available at no cost to patients who meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria.COVID-19 tests are no cost to patients with insurance or through a program for the uninsured funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services In addition, rapid-result tests may also be available as a testing option for eligible employees or students affiliated with an organization that has adopted CVS Health's Return Ready™ return-to-work COVID-19 testing solution.

To date, CVS Health has administered more than 5 million COVID-19 tests since March, and currently manages more than 4,000 drive-thru test sites at CVS Pharmacy locations in 33 states and Washington, D.C. Most results from these existing test sites are generally available within 2 to 3 days. The company is adapting some of these sites and adding new locations to be able to deliver rapid results at nearly 1,000 sites by the end of the year. Nearly 100 of these rapid-result test sites will be operational this week.

"Access to rapid-result tests enables us to help minimize community spread of COVID-19 by being able to more quickly identify active COVID-19 infection," said David Fairchild, MD, Chief Medical Officer, MinuteClinic. "In addition, we can test and treat symptomatic patients who test negative for COVID-19 for seasonal illnesses such as flu or strep and provide appropriate treatment and care."

Patients must register in advance at CVS.com to schedule an appointment. Testing is also available for patients ages 12 to 17; a parent or legal guardian must complete the online registration and must accompany minors ages 15 and younger for testing.

When arriving for testing, patients are asked to follow signage or the instructions of the staff onsite. Procedures vary by location and patients may be directed to stay in their vehicle and proceed to a designated testing structure located in the parking lot or, in very limited locations, to enter a CVS store through a doorway specifically allocated for this purpose. Patients will be provided with a test kit, given instructions, and a CVS Health team member will observe the self-swab process. Patients will be directed to wait outside the store in their vehicle for results. The process, from the collection of the swab to the delivery of the results, will generally take approximately 30 minutes.

Patients who access rapid-result testing and receive a negative COVID-19 result will have the opportunity to schedule an appointment at the on-site MinuteClinic for further assessment and to determine if a rapid-result test for flu and strep would be appropriate. The MinuteClinic provider will then be able to provide counsel on a treatment plan and prescribe medications if clinically appropriate.

Nearly 100 of the planned rapid-result test sites will be operational at select CVS Pharmacy locations in 22 states as of this week. States include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Patients seeking a COVID-19 test at CVS Pharmacy can find a complete list of locations and options offered here.

More information on steps CVS Health has taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic is available at the company's frequently updated COVID-19 resource center.

For downloadable COVID-19 testing media assets, including photos and video, please visit the Media Resource Center.

About CVS Health

CVS Health employees are united around a common goal of becoming the most consumer-centric health company. We're evolving based on changing consumer needs and meeting people where they are, whether that's in the community at one of our nearly 10,000 local touchpoints, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. Our newest offerings from HealthHUB locations that are redefining what a pharmacy can be, to innovative programs that help manage chronic conditions are designed to create a higher-quality, simpler and more affordable experience. Learn more about how we're transforming health at www.cvshealth.com.

Media contact

Joe Goode
401-378-5220
Joseph.Goode@CVSHealth.com

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CVS Pharmacy launches QuickRenew, an at-home contact lens prescription renewal tool

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Premium Vision powers the telehealth technology which allows customers to easily renew their contact lens prescription online from the comfort of home

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health, today announced the launch of QuickRenew, an online contact lens prescription renewal tool powered by technology from Premium Vision currently available on the CVS Optical website. Customers can use the easy and convenient tool to renew their prescription in minutes with an independent ophthalmologist and order contact lenses to be shipped to their home.

Customers can use the easy and convenient tool to renew their prescription at home in minutes.

"We continue to adapt and evolve our digital offerings in response to the pandemic. This addition to our optical site gives customers a new way to fulfill an important health care need safely and confidently from the comfort of their homes," said Michele Driscoll, Vice President of Customer Engagement, ExtraCare, Digital, & Promotion, CVS Health. "This is especially important at a time when customers are trying to limit their interactions or are finding it difficult to schedule time with an optometrist. Digital screening takes less than 15-20 minutes, and information is reviewed by a licensed independent ophthalmologist."

The QuickRenew online prescription renewal service is currently available in 32 states, where permitted. Patients must be age 18 55, have been fitted for contact lenses in the past, have had a full eye exam within last four years and have healthy eye history.

"With 25 years of experience in the vision industry, Premium Vision is taking another meaningful step for our brand, our partners and most importantly for consumers," said Scott Osmond, Vice President of Premium Vision. "By leveraging our unique expertise combined with advanced technology, we're creating new solutions to help consumers get the vision care and correction they need from anywhere."

In addition to QuickRenew, CVS Optical has also launched a new online glasses site that provides customers the ability to order glasses in a variety of trendy and classic styles starting at just $79, and a single-vision prescription comes at no extra cost. Each pair of glasses includes premium polycarbonate lenses that provide UV and scratch protection, and lenses can be upgraded to include blue light filtering to reduce eye strain and fatigue from digital devices.

About CVS Pharmacy

CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health, is America's leading retail pharmacy with nearly 10,000 locations, including over 1,700 pharmacies inside of Target and Schnucks grocery stores. We are committed to delivering innovative health solutions that create a simpler, more accessible experience for patients, customers and caregivers. CVS Pharmacy is the only national pharmacy to remove tobacco products from its shelves, and has taken a leadership role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by making testing available at locations across the United States. For the latest product and service offerings, visit www.cvs.com or download the CVS Pharmacy app.

About Premium Vision

Premium Vision is focused on providing the highest quality vision care and customer experience in partnership with top companies across industries, including vision, retail and healthcare. Premium Vision is part of a family of brands, including 1-800 Contacts, Liingo Eyewear, 6over6, and Boomerang.

Media contacts

Matt Blanchette
CVS

matthew.blanchette@cvshealth.com

Hannah Montpas
Premium Vision
hmontpas@allisonpr.com

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Lynn University engages CVS Health for on-site rapid result COVID-19 testing

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At Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, campus life is different this semester. Masks are required everywhere; signs are posted all around — even by the pool — discouraging close or crowded gatherings. “And you're not allowed to have anyone in your dorm room, aside from your roommate,” says Rorie Good, a second-year psychology student.

She’s been living on campus since late August and says several factors played into her decision to return in person, which included Lynn’s plan for COVID-19 testing on campus.

“I decided to come to this school for a reason,” she says. “A lot of it had to do with having the full college experience — being on campus in person. After weighing the risks and feeling like Lynn was handling it pretty well, I decided that it would be good to come back.”

A nationwide challenge

The challenges colleges and universities face this year are clear: COVID-19 outbreaks have become a public health threat on and off campuses. In September, 19 of the nation’s 25 worst outbreaks occurred in communities with large numbers of college students, USA Today reported.

Eighteen- to 25-year-olds also represent around 26% of new COVID-19 infections — more than any other group — according to Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.https://www.cnn.com/webview/politics/live-news/fauci-senate-hearing-09-23-20/h_d81e99c6d98ad5e568f7658a17f8547d And while young people are less likely to become seriously ill than older people, they can still spread the virus, he says.

“The main challenge … is balancing safety and health with the expectations of students to still have an academic experience that reflects what college life is all about.” 

– Christian Boniforti, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, Lynn University

At Lynn University, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer Christian Boniforti spent the spring and summer weighing all of these issues with the needs of his university community in mind.

“The main challenge that I think is unique to colleges and universities is balancing safety and health with the expectations of students' desires to still have an academic experience that reflects what college life is all about,” he says. “Making sure that we had testing was critical, and that's where CVS Health came in with a critical component for us.”

Public health experts say that when a communicable disease outbreak occurs, testing is key. Early identification of cases, quick treatment and immediate isolation are what prevent spread.

Lynn University makes a plan

Lynn University’s leadership team, including Boniforti, took a community approach to the challenge, talking to many stakeholders and drafting a reopening plan that included having fewer students on campus, scheduling classes to accommodate social distancing, limiting use of common spaces and creating new sanitation protocols. The university also asks all students and employees to perform a daily COVID-19 self-check.

The plan also includes an on-campus rapid testing program for those who report COVID-19 exposure or symptoms.

“We have a great student health center here on our campus, but they're not experts in conducting COVID-19 testing,” Boniforti says. “We quickly realized that we needed a professional partner who knew how to conduct the testing and make sure that it's regulated and that proper communication to the Department of Health is done.”

So Lynn signed on with Return Ready™, a customizable, scalable COVID-19 testing solution provided by CVS Health for college campuses and businesses.

It allows Lynn students and employees to schedule a test anytime, at no cost, and get results in minutes. “If a person tests positive on campus, we notify individuals who may have been exposed,” Boniforti says.

The Return Ready program also allows Lynn to do surveillance testing when there are positive cases — a particular residence hall, classroom, or sport, for instance. “Because the testing results are done so quickly, it allows us to make decisions earlier, which ultimately helps control outbreaks and reduce the quarantine times.”

For student Rorie Good, the continued testing has been essential to feeling safe on campus. “If you feel like you could've been exposed or you're anxious about it, you can always get the test. You can always know where you're at in terms of your health, and so that is very, very comforting,” she says. Also comforting: Seeing how seriously fellow students are taking the guidelines and wearing masks.

CVS Health’s testing initiative for colleges and businesses

The Return Ready program, designed for employers and colleges and their specific needs for safely returning to work sites or campuses, builds on CVS Health’s nationwide community-based COVID-19 testing infrastructure. The company has administered more than five million COVID-19 tests since March and has about 4,000 testing sites across the country.

With Lynn — as with every Return Ready partner — they started with a consultation, says Sree Chaguturu, M.D., chief medical officer, CVS Caremark, and senior vice president, CVS Health, to answer: Where do you want to test? Which tests do you want to use? Who do you want to test and how frequently?

The program can make use of CVS Health’s nationwide retail network for testing, bring testing on-site or use a combination. “We also work with a client to ensure that all of the reporting and analytics are provided to local and state health authorities as needed for regulatory compliance, as well as reporting back to the client so that they have timely analytics to help them understand testing trends,” Dr. Chaguturu says.

Return Ready also works with businesses, offering clinical consultation, end-to-end testing and workforce analytics to help offices.

“Return Ready has allowed us to become more proactive … to focus our efforts on continuing to provide a safe learning environment for student activities and education.”

– Christian Boniforti, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, Lynn University

To meet the various needs of each college and business, the program prioritizes flexibility. “For example, as we worked with an airline, we recognized there is an inherent unpredictability with schedules and operations.  In order to accommodate for fluctuations, we customized the workflows, number of hours and testing machines,” Dr. Chaguturu says.

At Lynn University, Boniforti says they’ve had some positive cases — as expected — but have avoided an outbreak, thanks in large part to testing protocols. The Return Ready program immediately notifies the student health center when there is a positive case on campus so that person can begin isolating on campus or at home.

“Return Ready has allowed us to become more proactive because we don’t have to schedule the testing, conduct the testing, report on the testing and make sure that staff are there to do the testing,” Boniforti says. “Having a partner to do those things really allows us to focus our efforts on continuing to provide a safe learning environment for student activities and education.”

Start planning your return.

Let us partner with you to implement your organization’s testing strategy. Contact us today to get started.

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CVS Health Corporation to hold third quarter 2020 earnings conference call

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health Corporation ("CVS Health") (NYSE:CVS) will hold a conference call with analysts and investors on Friday, November 6, 2020, at 8:00 a.m. (ET) to discuss its financial results for the third quarter of 2020.

An audio webcast of the conference call will be broadcast simultaneously through the Investor Relations portion of the CVS Health website for all interested parties. To access the webcast, visit http://investors.cvshealth.com. This webcast will be archived and available on the website for a one-year period following the conference call.

About CVS Health

CVS Health employees are united around a common goal of becoming the most consumer-centric health company in the world. We're evolving based on changing consumer needs and meeting people where they are, whether that's in the community at one of our nearly 10,000 local touchpoints, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. Our newest offerings - from HealthHUB locations that are redefining what a pharmacy can be, to innovative programs that help manage chronic conditions are designed to create a higher-quality, simpler and more affordable experience. Learn more about how we're transforming health at http://www.cvshealth.com.

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Keeping students safe

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At Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, campus life is different this semester. Masks are required everywhere; signs are posted all around — even by the pool — discouraging close gatherings. 

Second-year psychology student Rorie Good says several factors influenced her return, including a chance to have the full college experience — and Lynn’s plan for COVID-19 testing. “After weighing the risks and feeling like Lynn was handling it pretty well, I decided that it would be good to come back,” she says.

Colleges and universities face clear challenges this year: Across the country, COVID-19 outbreaks have become a public health threat on and off campuses. Eighteen- to 25-year-olds also represent around 26 percent of new COVID-19 infections — more than any other group — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lynn University Chief Strategy and Technology Officer Christian Boniforti says his school’s main challenge is balancing safety and health issues with students’ expectations for an academic experience that reflects college life. 

Lynn University Chief Strategy and Technology Officer Christian Boniforti wearing a mask in conversation with a woman wearing a mask and social distancing.
Chris Boniforti says Lynn University has avoided a COVID-19 outbreak in part because of testing protocols

Testing was critical, so Lynn signed on with Return Ready, a customizable, scalable COVID-19 testing solution provided by CVS Health for college campuses and businesses. It allows students and employees to schedule a test anytime, at no cost, with results in minutes. The program also allows Lynn to do surveillance testing when positive cases arise.

“Because the testing results are done so quickly, it allows us to make decisions earlier, which ultimately helps control outbreaks and reduce the quarantine times,” Boniforti says.

Return Ready builds on CVS Health’s nationwide community-based COVID-19 testing infrastructure. The company has administered over five million COVID-19 tests since March and has about 4,000 testing sites across the country.

With Lynn — like every Return Ready partner — they started with a consultation, says Sree Chaguturu, M.D., chief medical officer and senior vice president for CVS Caremark. “We also work with a client to ensure that all of the reporting and analytics are provided to local and state health authorities as needed for regulatory compliance, as well as reporting back to the client so that they have timely analytics to help them understand testing trends,” he says.

While Lynn University had some positive cases, Boniforti says the school has avoided an outbreak, thanks in large part to testing and protocols: “Having a partner to do those things really allows us to focus our efforts on continuing to provide a safe learning environment for student activities and education.”

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CVS Health expands availability of resources to prevent opioid misuse amid pandemic

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Innovative prevention efforts aim to make an impact in a time of reduced personal contact

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced new and expanded programs to help prevent opioid misuse, which come as the pandemic has presented challenges to delivering traditional drug abuse prevention programs for young people. The company's newest initiative increases access to digital prevention education resources tailored for the current learning environment.

Working with Discovery Education, CVS Health has launched a suite of no-cost digital resources that empower educators to discuss the facts about prescription and illicit drug misuse with students in either a classroom or virtual learning setting. The standards-based curriculum, called Dose of Knowledge, features Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson and U.S. Women's National Soccer goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. The initiative builds on CVS Health's successful pharmacist-led prevention education program by incorporating the perspective of several CVS pharmacists.

"The pandemic has brought new complexities to the way in which prevention and treatment services are provided, but early intervention remains as important as ever," said Troyen Brennan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. "Our work with Discovery Education accounts for the new definition of a 'classroom,' and delivers the same impactful resources to students regardless of their circumstances."

The CVS Health Foundation, a private charitable organization created by CVS Health, has also committed nearly $3 million in new grants to address opioid misuse and support treatment in local communities, including:

  • More than $1 million to the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics to support addiction treatment and other patient services in 17 states;

  • $1 million to America's Essential Hospitals to support office-based addiction treatment for more than 30 safety-net hospitals and facilitate a collaborative to share learnings with member hospitals;

  • $500,000 to Easterseals to support mental health and addiction recovery services for veterans; and

  • Nearly $100,000 to Young People In Recovery to create a digital life-skills curriculum to help young people rebuild their lives.

In addition to the impact these investments aim to have, a new report from the National Association of Community Health Centers is outlining the impact in this area of previous investments made by the CVS Health Foundation.

CVS Health is also building on its commitment to increase access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone, also known as Narcan. The medication has already been made available without an individual prescription, under a standing order or similar regulation, to CVS Pharmacy patients nationwide. Now, CVS Pharmacy is offering free delivery of naloxone nasal spray in all 30 states where regulations permit, as part of the company's free one- to two-day prescription delivery offering that was implemented shortly after the pandemic began.

On Saturday, October 24, CVS Health will participate in the Drug Enforcement Association's National Prescription Take Back Day, with events at select CVS Pharmacy locations. These events are just part of CVS Health's everyday efforts to reduce the availability of unneeded or unwanted controlled substances, which also include more than 2,800 CVS Pharmacy locations that offer permanent safe medication disposal kiosks. By the end of 2020, CVS Health will have installed more than 2,900 safe medication disposal units in CVS Pharmacy locations and donated more than 1,000 disposal units to local law enforcement. Together, these units have collected nearly two million pounds of unwanted medication, including opioids, removing these medications from homes where they could be diverted or abused. All CVS Pharmacy locations that do not offer in-store safe medication disposal units continue to offer no-cost DisposeRx drug disposal packets with all opioid first-fill prescriptions that can facilitate safe medication disposal at home.

About CVS Health

CVS Health employees are united around a common goal of becoming the most consumer-centric health company. We're evolving based on changing consumer needs and meeting people where they are, whether that's in the community at one of our nearly 10,000 local touchpoints, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. Our newest offerings from HealthHUB locations that are redefining what a pharmacy can be, to innovative programs that help manage chronic conditions are designed to create a higher-quality, simpler and more affordable experience. Learn more about how we're transforming health at www.cvshealth.com.

About the CVS Health Foundation

The CVS Health Foundation is a private charitable organization created by CVS Health that works to build healthier communities, enabling people of all ages to lead healthy, productive lives. The Foundation provides strategic investments to nonprofits throughout the U.S. who help increase community-based access to health care for underserved populations, create innovative approaches to chronic disease management and provide tobacco cessation and youth prevention programming. We also invest in scholarship programs that open the pathways to careers in pharmacy to support the academic aspirations of the best and brightest talent in the industry. Our philanthropy also extends to supporting our colleagues' spirit of volunteerism through Volunteer Challenge Grants to nonprofits where they donate their time and fundraising efforts. To learn more about the CVS Health Foundation and its giving, visit www.cvshealth.com/social-responsibility.

Media contact

Erin Shields Britt
Corporate Communications
Erin.Britt@CVSHealth.com

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CVS Health’s response to COVID-19 delivers solutions for current and future customer needs

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At the 2020 HLTH virtual conference, CVS Health President and Chief Executive Officer Larry J. Merlo and Karen S. Lynch, CVS Health Executive Vice President and President of its Aetna business unit, who led our COVID-19 response, discussed how the organization quickly mobilized, operationalized and scaled its resources to ensure our 300,000 employees, 22 million medical members and millions of customers received the care they needed whether in their community, their home or the palm of their hand.

Debra Richman, Karen S. Lynch, and Larry Merlo speaking via video conference during the HLTH 2020 virtual conference.
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Preparing for this year’s flu season

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COVID-19 is continuing to affect communities across the country, and yet, we have another potentially harmful virus to worry about – the flu.

Health care providers are busy meeting pandemic-related demands, including COVID-19 testing occurring at medical offices and drive-thru locations like CVS Pharmacy stores. In addition, America’s emergency rooms and critical care units are stressed with caring for COVID-19 patients, and that’s likely to get worse as we head into the winter months. Because of this, it’s crucial that we reduce the number of cold and flu cases and flu-related hospitalizations as much as possible to preserve our much-needed health care resources.

The good news is, there are simple things we can all do to help protect ourselves from the flu and boost our immunity during the fall and winter months. This begins with getting your annual flu vaccination. If you have not yet received your flu shot, it’s important that you get vaccinated right away.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle helps to promotes your ability to fight off seasonal illnesses like influenza, pneumonia and the common cold. Improving your diet, expanding your exercise routine and getting plenty of rest are all important ways to keep up your immunity.

Eating a well-balanced diet that includes foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals is also important, including fruits and vegetables. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight as being obesity puts people at risk for many other serious chronic diseases and increases the risk of severe illness from the flu. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/index.htm.

Now more than ever it is important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Stay home if you feel ill and try to avoid large crowds. The same things that can help slow the spread of COVID-19 are also important actions in reducing transmission of the flu, as well.

Most flu vaccinations available – including the primary vaccine provided at MinuteClinic and CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide – are the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four different flu strains – two types of influenza A and two types of influenza B.  Some other flu vaccines protect against three or two strains of the flu. For those 65+, the high-dose version of the quadrivalent influenza vaccine is recommended because it produces more than 4x the antigens to fight off the virus. Those 65+ should also receive a pneumonia vaccine, if they have not done so recently.

Learn more about how CVS Health is making flu shots safe and convenient, or make an appointment to get a flu shot.

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Tobacco-free for five years

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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.

cvs heart

In 2014, we quit tobacco.

Nearly 65%

of Americans agree that our decision to stop selling tobacco reduces the risk of chronic diseaseStatistics from an August 2019 Morning Consult poll of 2,200 adults

62%

of adults agree that retailers have an obligation to limit access to tobacco and e-cigarette productsStatistics from an August 2019 Morning Consult poll of 2,200 adults

81%

of adults support improving community education about the dangers of smokingStatistics from an August 2019 Morning Consult poll of 2,200 adults

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.

A young woman wearing large, round sunglasses makes peace-sign gestures with her hands while smiling lightly.
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