CVS Health actions in response to COVID-19

The health and safety of our patients, customers and colleagues is CVS Health’s top priority as we face the impact of COVID-19 together.

Colleagues, members, clients, customers and patients

How is CVS Health managing demand for COVID-19 related medication?

We are closely monitoring the global pharmaceutical manufacturing environment and working with our suppliers to ensure we can continue filling prescriptions for our pharmacy patients and plan members at CVS Health.  We are actively managing our supply to ensure our ability to continue to fill prescriptions in our retail, mail and specialty pharmacies.

We’re also balancing the growing interest in off-label use of certain prescription medications to treat COVID-19 pneumonia with the ongoing needs of patients and members who are prescribed these drugs to help manage chronic conditions such as lupus, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Our goal is to limit stockpiling of medication that could result in future shortages and gaps in care.

Our retail pharmacies are following dispensing guidelines regarding the use of these medications for COVID-19 that have been established in certain states. In states with no guidelines, our pharmacies are limiting the dispensing for COVID-19 treatment to a 10-day supply with no refills.

With client consent, our PBM CVS Caremark is setting appropriate coverage limits on the quantity of these medications for potential use in treating COVID-19. Plan members who already take these medications for approved uses will be able to bypass the new quantity limits.

What is CVS Health doing to prepare for a potential increase of COVID-19 in the U.S?

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, CVS Health is taking steps to address the outbreak and protect member access to medication. The latest steps we are taking will help ensure patients have options available to them when it comes to filling prescriptions. Steps we are taking include:

  • Waiving charges for CVS Pharmacy home delivery of medications.

  • Encouraging members to refill their maintenance medications with a 90-day supply or up to the plan maximum.

  • Developing travel, Work from Home, and other HR-related guidance to help employees stay safe and healthy.

  • Working with external public health organizations and other stakeholders, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to boost awareness of CVS Health’s emergency preparedness efforts and capabilities.

What is CVS Health doing to help employees manage the challenges posed by this pandemic?

  • In recognition of the essential role CVS Health employees are playing as the country faces the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is awarding bonuses to employees who are required to be at CVS facilities to assist patients and customers in this time of unprecedented need. Bonuses will range from $150 to $500 and will be awarded to pharmacists and certain other health care professionals on the frontlines, store associates and managers, and other site-based hourly employees.

  • CVS Health is also embarking on the most ambitious hiring drive in the company's history, with plans to immediately fill 50,000 full-time, part-time and temporary roles across the country. Roles include store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center employees and member/customer service professionals. The company will utilize a technology-enabled hiring process that includes virtual job fairs, virtual interviews and virtual job tryouts. Many roles will be filled by existing CVS Health clients who have had to furlough workers, including Hilton and Marriott.

  • CVS Health launched an offering to help employees with both child and elder or adult dependent care needs. Working with the Bright Horizons network of national in-home and center-based daycare providers, employees were able to take advantage of up to 25 fully covered days of backup care. This benefit, which began in early April for both full- and part-time employees, concluded on May 8, 2020.

  • Full-time CVS Health employees have always had access to paid sick leave. Effective March 22, CVS Health has made 24 hours of paid sick leave available to part-time employees for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. This paid sick leave is in addition to the 14-day paid leave the company is providing for any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 or needs to be quarantined as a result of potential exposure.

  • Employee safety has been a focus for CVS Health from the start, and the company has been prioritizing distribution of protective gear to the hardest-hit areas.

  • CVS Health employees have several resources available to help address financial hardships in times of crisis. This includes access to the Employee Relief Fund, which provides short-term, immediate financial relief in the form of tax-exempt grants.

  • More information on steps CVS Health has already taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic including waiving charges for home delivery of prescription medications and making diagnostic testing and Aetna-covered telemedicine visits available with no co-pay is available at the company's frequently updated COVID-19 resource center.

How will CVS Health educate members about the COVID-19 outbreak?

CVS Health is implementing the following programs to educate members about COVID-19 and help address any associated anxiety and stress:

  • Opening Crisis Response Lines for all Aetna (Commercial, Medicare, Medicaid) and Caremark members who may be experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19.

  • Expanding 24x7 access to the Aetna Nurse Medical Line for all Aetna and Caremark members.

  • Providing Aetna plan sponsors with a Resources for Living toolkit with materials specifically developed for members experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19.

Will Aetna make available enhanced payment terms or other financial assistance to providers?

  • We realize this is a challenging time for health systems, hospitals systems, medical groups, dental providers and caregivers. We thank them for all they are doing on the front lines to assist patients impacted by COVID-19.

  • Our focus is on our members and participating providers. For our members, we are waiving cost-sharing to encourage testing and use of alternative care such as telemedicine. For our providers, we are working to minimize disruption of critical operations, including utilization management and claims processing.

  • We continue to assess additional ways to support our providers but have not made decisions about enhanced payment terms or other financial assistance. Should Aetna decide to offer a program, we will provide details regarding our approach.

What else is CVS Health doing to support Aetna members, Caremark clients and CVS Pharmacy customers?

  • Aetna is waiving member cost sharing for diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This policy covers the cost of the office, clinic or emergency room visit that results in the administration of or order for a COVID-19 test. The test can be done by any approved laboratory. This member cost-sharing waiver applies to all Commercial, Medicare and Medicaid lines of business. The policy aligns with the new Families First legislation and regulation requiring all health plans to provide coverage of COVID-19 testing without cost share. The requirement also applies to self-insured plans. Per guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury, all Commercial, Medicare and Medicaid plans must cover serological (antibody) testing with no cost-sharing.

    • We’ve also expanded the health screening benefit included in our supplemental health plans (Accident Plan, Critical Illness Plan, Hospital Indemnity Plan) to include COVID-19 testing.

  • Through December 31, 2020, Aetna has extended all member cost-sharing waivers for covered in-network telemedicine visits for outpatient and mental health counseling services for Commercial plans. Available in select states for select conditions. Other restrictions apply. To receive these services, you will be connected to a trusted third-party provider. Self-insured plans offer this waiver at their own discretion. Disclaimer: Regulations regarding telehealth services and care package availability for Aetna Medicaid members vary by state and, in some cases, are changing in light of the current situation. Aetna Medicaid members with questions about their benefits are encouraged to call the member services phone number on the back of their ID cards. Cost share waivers for any in-network covered medical or behavioral health services telemedicine visit for Aetna Student Health plans are extended until December 31, 2020.

  • Through December 31, 2020, Aetna is waiving cost shares for all Medicare Advantage plan members for in-network primary care and specialist telehealth visits, including outpatient behavioral and mental health counseling services. Aetna Medicare Advantage members should continue to use telemedicine as their first line of defense for appropriate symptoms or conditions to limit potential exposure in physician offices. Cost sharing will be waived for all Teladoc® virtual visits. Cost sharing will also be waived for covered real-time virtual visits offered by in-network providers (live videoconferencing or telephone-only telemedicine services). Medicare Advantage members may use telemedicine for any reason, not just COVID-19 diagnosis. Disclaimer: Regulations regarding telehealth services and care package availability for Aetna Medicaid members vary by state and, in some cases, are changing in light of the current situation. Aetna Medicaid members with questions about their benefits are encouraged to call the member services phone number on the back of their ID cards. 

  • For Medicare Advantage plans, effective May 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020, Aetna is waiving member out-of-pocket costs for all in-network primary care visits, whether done in-office and via telehealth, for any reason, and encourages members to continue seeking essential preventive and primary care during the crisis.

  • Aetna is offering 90-day maintenance medication prescriptions for insured and Medicare members. It is also working with state governments to make the same option available to Medicaid members where allowable. Self-funded plan sponsors will also be able to offer this option.

  • Aetna is also waiving early refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications for all members with pharmacy benefits administered through CVS Caremark. Through December 31, 2020.

  • Through Aetna’s Healing Better program, members who are diagnosed and hospitalized with COVID-19 will receive a care package,mailed direct to their home, containing useful information and resources to help recover, as well as personal and household cleaning supplies to help keep others in the home protected from potential exposure. Distribution is dependent on recent hospital discharge for COVID-19 diagnosis and supply availability.

  • Through existing care management programs, Aetna is proactively reaching out to members most at-risk for COVID-19. Care managers will walk members through what they can do to protect themselves, where to get information on the virus, and where to go to get tested.

  • Aetna is also offering its Medicare Advantage brief virtual check-in and remote evaluation benefits to all Aetna Commercial members and waiving the co-pay. These offerings will empower members with questions or concerns that are unrelated to a recent office visit and do not need immediate in-person follow-up to engage with providers without the concern of sitting in a physician’s office and risking potential exposure to COVID-19.

  • In addition, Caremark is working with all clients to waive early refill limits on most 30-day prescription maintenance medications. Most Caremark clients already offer a 90-day benefit for maintenance medications and offer free home delivery from CVS Caremark Mail Service Pharmacy.

  • CVS Pharmacy is waiving charges for home delivery of prescription medications. Free 1- to 2-day Rx shipping applies to orders from March 9, 2020, to December 31, 2020.  With the CDC encouraging people at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay at home as much as possible, this is a convenient option to avoid coming to the pharmacy for refills or new prescriptions.

Will Aetna make available enhanced payment terms or other financial assistance to providers?

We realize this is a challenging time for health systems, hospitals systems, medical groups, dental providers and caregivers. We thank them for all they are doing on the front lines to assist patients impacted by COVID-19.

Our focus is on our members and participating providers. For our members, we are waiving cost-sharing to encourage testing and use of alternative care such as telemedicine. For our providers, we are working to minimize disruption of critical operations, including utilization management and claims processing.

We continue to assess additional ways to support our providers but have not made decisions about enhanced payment terms or other financial assistance. Should Aetna decide to offer a program, we will provide details regarding our approach.

What alternative services are you offering customers who would like to limit trips into the store?

CVS Pharmacy encourages all customers to take advantage of free services that can help limit their time in-store. Customers can: 

  • Arrange for free 1-2 day delivery of prescriptions and other store essentials.

  • Add pain relief, allergy relief, skin care, cold relief and digestive care products to a prescription order at drive thru.

  • Make an appointment with a MinuteClinic® provider for common family health care needs (clinic and video visits available)

  • Talk to their pharmacist about 90‐day prescription and early refills.

  • Book an appointment for a no-cost COVID-19 test at select locations.

CVS Health’s March 6th press release states that Aetna will proactively reach out to members most at-risk for COVID-19. How are those at-risk members being identified?

Care management outreaches to high risk impactable members to support with a range of medical and social determinants of health needs. This will include discussion of COVID-19, as appropriate. Care management outreaches to members who are identified by:

  • Utilization management or Inpatient Management discharge planning clinicians, the member’s provider or CVS clinicians including retail pharmacists have identified the individual as being at-risk or in need of additional clinical support

  • Predictive algorithms that indicate future health risk or health care costs including specific risk of admissions, readmissions or frequent utilization

  • Predictive algorithms that indicate end-of-life resource needs or advanced illness-related needs.

In addition to these care management identification approaches, all individuals hospitalized with a confirmed or presumptive case of COVID-19 will receive outreach from a care manager upon discharge to support their transition of care needs.

We continue to monitor the situation and are planning for large scale outbreaks.

Facilities

What is CVS doing to ensure its locations employ cleaning best practices to minimize exposure risk?

CVS follows CDC general cleaning guidance, which includes frequently cleaning all commonly touched surfaces, using disposable wipes to disinfect these surfaces, and using Personal Protective Equipment while cleaning, including wearing nitrile gloves and safety goggles/glasses when using bleach/water solutions. This applies to all locations, including our stores.

What cleaning practices does CVS undertake when there is a confirmed case or an exposure situation?

A deep cleaning will be performed, which consists of wiping down all horizontal and high contact touch points using Shockwave disinfectant cleaner and Steramist spray.

07.13.20