20 U.S. cities and counties pledge to improve local systems and policies to advance health equity with $2 million in grants from the Aetna Foundation

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APHA, NACo and Healthy Places by Design to collaborate on capacity-building efforts to accelerate community change

WASHINGTON — The Aetna Foundation, together with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo), today announced the organizations selected to receive a grant as part of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge to support communities that are changing the way they work together across sectors to reduce disparities in chronic disease outcomes. This grant program will award a total of $2 million to teams of organizations that will work together to change the food access and health care systems in their communities and engage community residents as leaders in their work.

"Access to health care and healthy food can significantly impact rates of chronic disease and other health outcomes, with average life spans varying by up to 20-30 years in communities that are just a few miles apart," said Aetna Foundation President Eileen Howard Boone. "We are proud to partner with APHA and NACo to support the work of the teams taking on the Healthiest and Cities & Counties Challenge to drive change and address these social determinants of health work that is now more important than ever, given the COVID-19 pandemic."

The Challenge teams will each receive $100,000 to implement multi-year projects to advance health equity in communities where individuals are disproportionately impacted by health disparities. In addition to the funding, Challenge teams will participate in one-on-one technical assistance provided by APHA and NACo and co-create a supportive peer-learning network led by Healthy Places by Design over the course of the two years.

The project teams are located in the following cities and counties:

  • Chula Vista, California

  • Tompkins County, New York

  • Collier County, Florida

  • Cumberland County, North Carolina

  • Deerfield Beach, Florida

  • Wilkes County, North Carolina

  • Dougherty County, Georgia

  • Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Cumming/Forsyth County, Georgia

  • Cleveland, Ohio

  • Perry County, Kentucky

  • Cambria County, Pennsylvania

  • New Brunswick, New Jersey

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Paterson, New Jersey

  • Kerrville, Texas

  • Orange County, New York

  • Greenbrier County, West Virginia

  • Rochester, New York

  • Wheeling, West Virginia

"There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving health equity," said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. "Successful, lasting change comes from cross-sector partnerships and engaging affected individuals and communities, which is why this challenge is so powerful. Together, communities in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge will be able to achieve enduring transformations to public health."

Added NACo President Mary Ann Borgeson, "Counties play an essential role in protecting, promoting and improving health in our communities across the country. The Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge recognizes the positive impact of cross-sector partnerships and offers opportunities for counties to develop innovative approaches to meet residents' health needs."

The project teams intend to use what they learn over the next two years to produce models and resources that can inform work in other similarly sized cities and counties across the country. Challenge communities have proposed strategies including:

  • Increasing access points for purchasing fresh produce and receiving health care;

  • Leveraging local schools as partners;

  • Addressing barriers to transportation;

  • Building more equitable models for food procurement and distribution;

  • Increasing coordination and data-sharing across organizations;

  • Improving health care referral systems;

  • Developing community advisory boards; and

  • Informing local policies.

An expert review panel selected the teams following a rigorous review process, which looked at a variety of factors including: level of innovation of their proposed approaches; intended impacts on systems and policy change; and alignment of diverse partners around common priorities.

The Aetna Foundation, which first launched the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge in partnership with APHA and NACo in 2016, is an independent, charitable and philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health.

The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public's health.

Contact

Erin Britt
CVS Health
401-318-3962

APHA Media Relations
202-777-3913

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Addressing systemic racism and inequality

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CVS Health is investing nearly $600 million over five years to advance employee, community and public policy initiatives that address inequality faced by the Black community and other disenfranchised communities. The company will also use its position to advocate for public policy that addresses the root causes of systemic inequalities and barriers, including efforts to address socioeconomic status, education, and access to health care.

“While we know that CVS Health alone cannot erase the toll that 400 years of institutionalized racism and discrimination has taken on the Black community, we recognize that we have a role to play in living up to the potential the future holds.”

— David Casey, Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health

CVS Health’s investment will focus on improving the employee experience, supporting communities the company serves and influencing public policy. The company’s nearly $600 million investment will build on its longstanding commitments to foster diversity in its workplace, including the following areas:

Colleagues and corporate culture

These investments will support the company’s commitment to ensuring that colleagues have fair and equitable access to opportunities for advancement and development at all levels, including senior-level positions. CVS Health will be working to ensure its mentoring, sponsorship and employee development programs support the advancement of employees, with a heightened focus on the experience of our Black colleagues. And the company will focus on corporate culture programs and company-wide training that promotes active and purposeful inclusion.

“The private sector must take action to get to the heart of institutional racism. As we learn from the perspectives of our Black colleagues and the diverse communities we serve, we’ll use that input to inform our advocacy agenda going forward.”

— Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Health

Supplier diversity

Investments in CVS Health’s supplier diversity program will further the company’s focus on sourcing products from Black-owned and other diverse businesses by connecting, engaging, and networking with diverse suppliers, advocacy organizations, and corporate partners. The company will also continue working with national organizations to identify and develop diverse businesses. By working with business units across the company to integrate supplier diversity into procurement activities, CVS Health is able to continue to expand business opportunities for these diverse businesses. And as part of the company’s commitment to the Black community, it will create additional opportunities and development programs for its diverse suppliers. This work will build on the program’s success in creating jobs and increasing economic opportunities for the people and local businesses in the communities CVS Health serves. 

Workforce initiatives

Investments to bolster CVS Health’s Workforce Initiatives will build on the company’s highly successful relationships to provide employment services and training to underserved communities. Through these programs, CVS Health works with local, state and federal workforce agencies to provide employment services and training to underserved communities. Through work with schools, universities, community colleges, faith-based and community organizations, these programs have helped thousands of people access meaningful employment opportunities.

“Our more than 300,000 employees are a microcosm of America, and a reflection of the diversity that is foundational to who we are as a country. The strategic agenda we’re laying out today will harness the strength of that diversity and focus on the areas where we can have the greatest impact.”

— Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Health

Addressing health disparities

Health care is local. Addressing health disparities in the community is critical to addressing racial inequality, which is why CVS Health will expand its Project Health initiative and make other investments to increase access to health care. Project Health provides free health screening events at select CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide, focused within communities with large multicultural and uninsured populations. Project Health offers an array of free comprehensive health assessment screenings, including body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, glucose and total cholesterol screenings, which can help detect risk for chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, which disproportionately impact Black people and other communities of color. The screening events also feature further information on weight management, diabetes resources, and smoking cessation programs. Increased investments in Project Health will strengthen CVS Health’s continued commitment to improve access to health care and help prevent cost from being a barrier to important preventive services.

Social determinants of health

Because studies have shown that your zip code can have as much impact on your health as your genetic code, CVS Health will focus on social determinants of health in Black and underserved communities. This work will have a particular emphasis on increasing access to affordable housing, which is inextricably linked to health. Since 1997, CVS Health and Aetna, a CVS Health company, have invested more than $1 billion in affordable housing and community initiatives. In 2019, the company invested $67 million in affordable housing across the country and the company plans to exceed that amount over the next five years to help address housing insecurities and promote community health improvement. Investments in affordable housing, as well as collaborations with community groups in these areas, help provide support to those who need it most.

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CVS Health commits nearly $600 million to address racial inequality

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced it will invest nearly $600 million over five years to advance employee, community and public policy initiatives that address inequality faced by Black people and other disenfranchised communities. The investment follows a commitment from President and CEO Larry Merlo to evaluate how the company operates and how it can use its influence to be a force for good in communities across the country.

"Our nearly 300,000 employees are a microcosm of America, and a reflection of the diversity that is foundational to who we are as a country," said Merlo. "The strategic agenda we're laying out today will harness the strength of that diversity and focus on the areas where we can have the greatest impact."

CVS Health's investment will focus on improving the employee experience, supporting communities the company serves, and influencing public policy. Collectively the company will invest nearly $600 million in the following areas to build on its longstanding commitment to diversity:

  • Mentoring, sponsorship, development and advancement of diverse employees;

  • Company-wide training and corporate culture programs, with a focus on promoting inclusion;

  • Workforce initiatives, including building on the company's highly successful partnerships to provide employment services and training to underserved communities;

  • Social determinants of health, with a particular emphasis on increasing access to affordable housing, which is inextricably linked to health;

  • Access to health care, including expanding Project Health and other investments that address health disparities; and

  • Partnerships with civil rights and social justice organizations to support shared goals.

CVS Health will also use its position to advocate for public policy that addresses the root causes of systemic inequalities and barriers, including efforts to address socioeconomic status, education, and access to health care.

"The private sector must take action to get to the heart of institutional racism," Merlo continued. "As we learn from the perspectives of our Black colleagues and the diverse communities we serve, we'll use that input to inform our advocacy agenda going forward."

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

Erin Britt
erin.britt@cvshealth.com

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COVID-19 data reveals huge health disparities

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Forty-six-year-old Angelene Sailes always helped those in need. The Detroit resident enjoyed looking after her nieces and nephews and volunteered regularly in her church community, says her cousin Marquitta Sailes

So it was especially painful when Angelene died alone in the hospital on March 26 of COVID-19 complications. “There was no one there with her in her final moments,” says Sailes. “It didn’t have to be that way.”

Compounding the devastation was the hindsight that Angelene lacked critical information about the risks for COVID-19 at its onset.

Statistics now show that Black people are dying from COVID-19 at a rate that is nearly two times higher than their share of the nationwide populationhttps://covidtracking.com/race?fbclid=IwAR1L-IN8L3INPqsaXjl_TY7UM7LTtuygKUA7tdkL3CROPWv6Hg8MJCkKq78, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project and the Antiracist Research & Policy Center. In hard-hit states like Michigan, the rate is nearly three times greater.

Angelene Sailes and Marquitta Sailes.
Angelene and Marquitta. Angelene died alone at age 46 from COVID-19 complications.
“It just breaks my heart because we're dealing with two pandemics. We’re dealing with racism and we’re dealing with a virus that’s killing more African Americans.” — Marquitta Sailes
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Research is finding that the social determinants of health, which include housing, education and employment, are linked to increased risks of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

“We have seen the COVID-19 pandemic expose clear problems that our health care system has been facing for many years, including disparities in potentially deadly conditions based on people’s race and ethnicity,” says Dr. Garth Graham, Vice President, Community Health and Impact, CVS Health. “Social determinants can directly impact someone’s overall health and life expectancy, so in a situation like a pandemic, this issue is amplified, especially in at-risk communities.”

Understanding that more work needs to be done, CVS Health is prioritizing the needs of Black communities as it expands COVID-19 testing nationwide.

Health disparities, race and COVID-19 risks

As data surrounding COVID-19 continues to bring America’s health disparities into greater focus, findings show Black people are being impacted at a disproportionate rate across the country.

Read the infographic.

Over half the company’s more than 1,400 testing sites serve moderate to high needs communities, as measured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index. While these sites primarily accommodate drive-through customers, CVS Health is also launching new no-cost walk-up testing sites in underserved communities. Since March, CVS Health has conducted 1 million COVID-19 tests nationwide.

“Through our partnerships, we are able to reach people who may lack easy access to testing,” says David Casey, Vice President, Workforce Strategies & Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health. “By working together to address racial disparities, we can flatten the curve and help save lives.”

Several people walking into a CVS Health community test center in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Excerpts from Larry Merlo’s message to employees on our commitment to inclusion and belonging

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Like you, I was deeply disturbed by what unfolded in Minneapolis last week, and I am saddened to see the pain, frustration and anguish boil over in our communities following the death of George Floyd. The turmoil we are witnessing grows out of a long and deep history in our country, and as a nation we must focus on the injustices and discrimination that continue to divide us. I remain hopeful that we can find a way to move forward in unity to solve the nation’s most pressing issues.

In our workforce and in our communities, CVS Health’s commitment to inclusion and belonging is unwavering. It is critical to those we serve and grounded in our company values. We are a diverse community here at CVS Health – all 300,000 of us – and that diversity is one of our key strengths. It shows up in how we care for one another – walking in each other’s shoes, joining forces for the greater good and respecting one another no matter what our race or ethnicity. We will continue to uphold the commitment of mutual respect in everything we do. Discrimination and intolerance have no place in our business and will not be permitted in any form.

Be well and stay safe.

Larry

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Billion Dollar Roundtable recognizes CVS Health for reaching $1 billion in diverse supplier spending

Billion Dollar Roundtable recognizes CVS Health for reaching $1 billion in diverse supplier spending
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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), the nation's largest pharmacy innovation company, today was recognized by Billion Dollar Roundtable, a top-level corporate advocacy organization that promotes supply-chain diversity excellence, for reaching its goal of spending over $1 billion with diverse suppliers.

"We are incredibly proud to be recognized by Billion Dollar Roundtable for our commitment to using diverse suppliers throughout our business," said Eva Boratto, Executive Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer for CVS Health. "By tapping into this expanding supplier pool, we are able to build supply chain excellence, add distinctive goods and services to our business offerings and enhance our brand among customers."

CVS Health joins the ranks as one of 26 major U.S.-based corporations that provide thought leadership and solutions-driven exploration of key issues in supplier diversity. Billion Dollar Roundtable member companies each spend $1 billion or more annually for a broad range of goods and services with certified diverse companies whose majority owners primarily are minorities and women.

This recognition is the latest in a series of third-party acknowledgments, including CVS Health being ranked #45 on Fortune's Most Admired Companies in 2017, #3 on Fast Company's 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2016 and among the World's Most Valuable Brands by Forbes. The company also received awards recognizing its innovation, leadership, and workplace practices by CIO (100 Best Companies for IT Innovation), Corporate Responsibility Magazine (100 Best Corporate Citizens), Human Rights Campaign (Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality) and Disability Equality Index (Best Places to Work).

About CVS Health

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,700 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 90 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated 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.

Media contact

Joe Goode
4
01-770-9820
Joseph.Goode@cvshealth.com

 

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Partnering to support diverse suppliers

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Doing business with large corporations can be challenging, especially for small businesses with few resources. To help these companies navigate the complexities, CVS Health has partnered with Roger Williams University (RWU) to establish a unique training program specifically for diverse suppliers. 

Skills for success

The goal of the Executive Learning Series for Diverse Suppliers is to arm participants with the skills needed to succeed in business and flourish in their industry. Through the program, CVS Health is not only hoping to strengthen its relationships with local suppliers, but also to help the communities we do business in flourish economically.

As part of the program, business owners and executives learn about CVS Health and the many business opportunities available with the company. The training also helps participating diverse suppliers develop valuable skills in areas such as financing and budget, leadership, management and technology, and human resources and communications, all of which can help strengthen their business as a whole.

Experts influenced curriculum

The curriculum was developed with help from several national diversity chambers and councils, including the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Southern Florida Minority Supplier Development Council, U.S. Business Leadership Network (DSDP), U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

A close-up photo shows a female CVS Health employee smiling while sitting around a conference table at the company’s Woonsocket, Rhode Island headquarters.
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