COVID-19: A look ahead with Dr. Scott Gottlieb

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Tom Moriarty, Chief Policy & External Affairs Officer at CVS Health, recently sat down with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA Commissioner and one of the nation’s leading health care experts, to provide an insightful look forward at how the pandemic will end and how we will emerge from this current recovery. Dr. Gottlieb addressed the vaccine, infection rates, inequities in the healthcare system, the coming flu season, different types of testing, how we return to the workplace, and more.

Selections from this interview were originally shared with CVS Health employees during a company town hall on June 9, 2020. Based on the quality of Scott’s analysis, and the perspective he brings to the conversation, CVS Health has decided to make the full discussion available here.

We hope you find this conversation as insightful as we did.

Tom Moriarty and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, on a video call together discussing the COVID-19 pandemic.
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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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Get the right care for you – even during a pandemic

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By Dr. Garth Graham, MD, MPH, Vice President, Community Health & Impact, CVS Health, and Oliver T. Brooks, MD, President, National Medical Association

This story was also featured in U.S.News & World Report.

We have all seen the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had in communities across the country. And as we’ve watched the case numbers and death toll rise, we’ve seen an unsurprising trend: The virus began to level a disproportionate blow to minority and underserved populations.

This trend has continued, with Black and Hispanic communities across the United States showing more significant effects from COVID-19 compared with other demographic groups, whether through greater financial impacts, higher rates of infection or higher rates of death. When age is taken into account, the death rate for Black Americans is 3.6 times that of whites, and Hispanics' is 2.5 times higher, according to recent research from the Brookings Institution

While elected leaders, public health officials and the business community have worked together to reach into communities with expanded testing and other resources, we know we’re treating a symptom of a larger issue. One in 2 Americans have a chronic disease, and it is well-documented that members of underserved communities face higher rates of conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that young Black Americans are living with diseases more common at older ages, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Hispanic and Latino Americans have a 50% chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

We are working to address these racial and ethnic disparities in treatment and care that public health experts have known about for years, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare. Today, that mission is more critical than ever before as both of these crises converge to create another negative consequence of the pandemic: Many people with chronic conditions are delaying care due to fear of contracting COVID-19 in a health care setting. 

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, nearly half of Americans said either they or someone in their household has skipped or delayed needed medical care because of the coronavirus. Alarmingly, a significant share of those who postponed care reported that they or their family member's condition worsened as a result.  According to a New York Times editorial by leaders of the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic, cancer diagnoses are down by 45 percent, and reports of heart attack and stroke are down by 38 and 30 percent, respectively – all indicating that individuals are not seeking care for acute emergencies or getting regular screenings.

While much is still unknown about COVID-19, the impacts of these devastating conditions are well-known, and treatment and preventive care protocols are well-established. It is absolutely critical for those suffering or at risk to continue regular doctor visits and seek treatment in the event of a medical emergency such as a stroke or heart attack. Aetna, a CVS Health company, is using data analytics to identify members with chronic conditions who may be at higher risk for COVID-19 and providing support to not only keep them from contracting the disease, but also to make sure they are continuing to receive the care they need for their existing health issues. 

Health care professionals across the country understand this issue and are making themselves more readily available for health issues not related to COVID-19, while at the same time creating protocols to keep their patients safe. Telehealth has experienced a huge surge in adoption over the past few months, allowing patients and providers to connect virtually without risk of exposure to the virus. In fact, the utilization of telemedicine for virtual visits through CVS Health MinuteClinic is up by nearly 600% compared with the first quarter of 2019. 

Yet even though the ability to see patients virtually can be a huge advantage in helping limit the spread of COVID-19, there are certain health issues that benefit from being addressed in a person-to-person setting. Making sure that people know it is safe to receive care in a clinical setting if it is needed is absolutely essential to maintaining the overall health of the population, particularly for individuals with chronic diseases.

While it is an uncertain time for our nation’s health, and we’re only beginning to see the ripple effects of gaps in treatment for chronic diseases, our aim is always to care for the patients we serve, especially the most vulnerable. That’s why we’re trying to help educate all Americans about the importance of maintaining treatment for chronic disease, dispel fears preventing people from going to the hospital or doctor’s office, and provide key resources and tools for patients and health care providers alike. The National Medical Association and other community-focused organizations can serve as trusted resources and deliver this message to underserved populations.

We all have a role to play in combating the health inequities that have plagued our underserved communities for many years. The impacts of COVID-19 have placed a bright light on that mission over the last few months and have made that work even more important.

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CVS Health helps Americans return to worksites and campuses with comprehensive COVID-19 testing solution

CVS Health helps Americans return to worksites and campuses with comprehensive COVID-19 testing solution
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Return Ready™ offers organizations a customizable COVID-19 testing solution, clinical protocols and reporting to meet their unique worksite or campus needs

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced the launch of Return Ready™, a comprehensive, customizable COVID-19 testing solution for employers and universities. The solution helps return employees to worksites and students, faculty and staff to campuses, and integrates COVID-19 testing for ongoing business continuity. With flexible technology options for on-site testing and/or drive-thru testing at CVS Pharmacy locations, organizations can design a customized testing strategy to meet their unique needs. Return Ready builds on CVS Health's commitment to helping the country on its path forward by making COVID-19 testing available to consumers, the business community, universities and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus.

At the core of the end-to-end solution is a customized COVID-19 testing strategy guided by clinical consultation that allows organizations to choose who, how, where, and when to test employees or students. The solution also includes:

  • Clinician-informed protocols and guidance for symptom checking and temperature screenings;

  • On-site licensed professionals for COVID-19 testing and support;

  • Turnkey employee and student communications toolkit;

  • Digital tools for test scheduling and sharing of results;

  • Integrated reporting and analytics across testing locations;

  • On-site immunization clinic with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended vaccination services, such as the seasonal flu vaccine; and

  • Access to add-on solutions such as thermal scanners, digital symptom monitoring and contact tracing technology.

"Organizations can rely on our customizable return to worksite and campus solution, which will evolve and adapt to include the latest COVID-19 testing technology and clinical protocols to meet their specific population health management needs," said Troyen Brennan, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, CVS Health. "Return Ready is one more way that we're increasing access to COVID-19 testing options whether in the local community at CVS Pharmacy locations or where people work and study."

How Return Ready testing works

Return Ready offers organizations clinical consultation, end-to-end testing execution, integrated reporting and additional health and safety solutions to help reduce COVID-19 transmission. The testing technology options include point-of-care testing with results in a few minutes or third-party lab processed testing with results in a few days. The organization can choose to offer testing on-site and in a safe testing environment set up by CVS Health or in the local community at one of the CVS Pharmacy drive-thru testing locations which are anticipated to reach 1,400 sites by the end of the week. For example, some organizations with high-density populations working in close proximity that need rapid results may choose on-site, point-of-care testing overseen by licensed CVS Health professionals to receive immediate alerts of positive results for contact tracing. Others may prefer lab-processed tests, with results in a few days, conducted either on-site or at a nearby CVS Pharmacy testing location, which enables organizations to test a large number of individuals quickly and/or ensures convenience for those with a distributed workforce. Many organizations may choose a combination of both testing options, and the testing protocols will vary based on the organization's physical worksite environment and COVID-19 risk and exposure.

Return Ready also includes an analytics dashboard for ongoing oversight and trends across worksite location(s), along with state and federal reporting of test results, as required. The company's testing protocols are informed by the latest technology and science, giving organizations the ability to continually access emerging testing solutions and protocols. Return Ready is available to U.S. employers and universities, and in addition, CVS Health will implement the solution for its own employees.

CVS Health’s commitment to COVID-19 testing

Return Ready builds on CVS Health's leadership in responding to the pandemic that began with its very first COVID-19 testing site in March. Now, through its extensive presence in communities across the country, and clinical, operational, and technological expertise, CVS Health is improving access to COVID-19 testing and helping people manage pandemic-related health challenges. This includes a focus on testing in underserved and vulnerable communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, as well as solutions that increase testing for patients and staff in nursing homes and rehab facilities.

For more information on Return Ready, visit https://cvshealth.com/returnready. In addition, learn more about the steps that CVS Health is taking to address the COVID-19 pandemic at the company's frequently updated COVID-19 resource center.

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 www.cvshealth.com.

Media contact

Christina Beckerman
CVS Health
401-479-6570
christina.beckerman@cvshealth.com

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Helping America on its path forward: Reopening worksites and campuses in the era of COVID-19

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COVID-19 has significantly impacted our economy, and many organizations, including employers and universities, have had to alter or temporarily shutter their worksites and campuses as a result of stay-at-home orders. Now, as state and local governments begin to move through their phased reopening efforts, organizations require a comprehensive COVID-19 strategy to return to worksites and campuses. This is especially important as the country prepares for a potential second wave of the virus this fall.

While community-based protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such as social distancing and the use of cloth face coverings in public, have helped slow and control the spread of COVID-19, widespread access to COVID-19 testing is critical, especially as communities start to reopen. For organizations, this is also an important tool in their return to worksite or campus strategy.

Through our extensive presence in communities across the country, we are improving access to COVID-19 testing and helping people manage pandemic-related health challenges. This includes a focus on testing in underserved and vulnerable communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, as well as solutions that increase testing for patients and staff in nursing homes and rehab facilities.

Now, we’re building on our leadership in response to the pandemic by helping organizations, including employers and universities, reopen their worksites and campuses with our new Return Ready™ solution.

Return Ready

Return Ready offers organizations clinical consultation, end-to-end COVID-19 testing execution, integrated reporting and additional health and safety solutions to help reduce COVID-19 transmission. At the core, it is a customized COVID-19 testing strategy, guided by clinical consultation, and includes a combination of testing on-site and/or drive-thru testing at CVS Pharmacy locations. This allows organizations to choose who, how, where and when to test employees or students to help meet their specific population health management needs.

The solution also includes:

  • Clinician-informed protocols and guidance for symptom checking and temperature screenings;

  • On-site licensed professionals for COVID-19 testing and support;

  • Turnkey employee and student communications toolkit;

  • Digital tools for test scheduling and sharing of results;

  • Integrated reporting and analytics across testing locations;

  • On-site immunization clinic with CDC-recommended vaccination services, such as the seasonal flu vaccine; and

  • Access to add-on solutions such as thermal scanners, digital symptom monitoring and contact tracing technology.

Return Ready is available to all U.S. employers and universities, and we will also implement the solution for our own CVS Health employees.

“Return Ready is one more way that we’re increasing access to COVID-19 testing options whether in the local community at CVS Pharmacy locations or where people work and study,” said Troyen Brennan, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, CVS Health.

Visit the Return Ready page for more information. In addition, learn more about the steps that CVS Health is taking to address the COVID-19 pandemic at the company’s frequently updated COVID-19 resource center.

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Keeping connections in a distanced world to transform chronic care

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By Jonathan Mayhew, Executive Vice President, Chief Transformation Officer, CVS Health

Four months ago, chronic care was one of the nation’s biggest health challenges, affecting more than half of all American adults and driving 90 percent of health care spending according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Four months ago, new tools for helping people better manage and even prevent chronic conditions were expanding our ability to reach people early and often, connecting them with our local care teams, local community resources and virtual capabilities to support everyday decisions between regular doctors’ visits. Whether individuals chose to seek support at home, at work, in the pharmacy, online, or through a combination of all these options – these increased connections and intervention in chronic care would help prevent emergency room visits and hospital readmissions, improve health outcomes and lower costs.

Today, I still believe increased support and connections are key to fighting chronic disease, which is still a top health care challenge. But our world is different in many ways than it was four months ago. We are managing and looking to recover from a grueling pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted minority and underserved populations. Many people with chronic conditions have already delayed care due to fear of contracting COVID-19 in a health care setting.  In the months ahead, stopping in at your local pharmacy or visiting a doctor may not sound as appealing as it once did. For some, it will be non-starter.

At CVS Health, we understand that. Still, it is critical for those suffering or at risk of chronic conditions to continue regular care. And our approach to helping individuals with chronic conditions, which includes innovative touchpoints and groundbreaking data analysis, reflects the evolving needs of our customers, including a new reality shaped by the pandemic.

Combining physical, digital and virtual for more support options

Our past and real-time experience tells us that, particularly during stressful times, individuals at home need expanded options for accessing support for everyday decisions related to diet and exercise as well as medical and behavioral health care. While we will continue to expand our brick-and-mortar HealthHUB® locations to provide in-person health and wellness care, pharmacy services and retail goods, we also are accelerating and expanding our digital presence and integrating new virtual capabilities into our care management programs.

Recently, we have expanded the ways customers can engage with a CVS pharmacist, MinuteClinic® clinicians, or HealthHUB concierges (where available) to receive services. So, while an individual may not travel to see her pharmacist – she can still speak live over the phone or engage through an app and, afterward, have her medications delivered to her home. Additionally, through expanding telehealth capabilities, many individuals can access doctors to address medical and behavioral health concerns. No matter their preference, individuals have an array of options to stay connected.

Within our care management and condition management programs, we are making sure that, in addition to traditional telephone support, care managers can provide support using telehealth services and, when it is deemed safe to do so, still visit with individuals in their homes.  

Data is the game changer

Data will make these options even more effective. In the past, when the topic of data and analytics was raised related to care or condition management, it typically meant relying on claims data exclusively. Today, CVS Health is not only able to bring together a broader set of data from prescription claims and medical claims, but we also combine that data with lab results, electronic health record data and information from medical devices and wearables where permitted. As we’ve seen in Korea and multiple other countries, along with some efforts in the U.S. to track COVID-19, this approach provides a much more comprehensive understanding of what is happening with an individual and within a community. And because we are able to aggregate and analyze this data in real time, the insights we can generate for care managers, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and doctors (as part of referrals and ongoing care coordination) are actionable and make health care simpler for individuals. This kind of data fuels our Pharmacist Panel program which notifies our pharmacists of potential gaps in care or preventive care opportunities based on medical, pharmacy and lab data. This expanded view makes it even easier for pharmacists to proactively engage members in relevant, impactful and timely one-on-one conversations about how best to manage their chronic conditions. And this outreach is delivered through member-preferred channels like text, email or telephone.

Moving to a comprehensive approach to condition management

Unmatched data and multiple connection capabilities allow CVS Health to break away from the one-size-fits-all approach to chronic condition management. For example, most diabetes management programs today focus on just two modes of support -- monitoring blood glucose and managing issues of lifestyle and comorbidities – mostly through virtual reporting and telephone coaching.

Our comprehensive approach to diabetes care for Aetna members and CVS Caremark customers focuses on three additional areas for a total of five impact areas. In addition to monitoring blood glucose and managing lifestyle issues, we aim to ensure individuals also are receiving the recommended annual health screenings, adhering to medications and taking the right medications to manage their diabetes and any other conditions. Whether an individual is seen by a CVS pharmacist, a care manager, or MinuteClinic nurse practitioner online or in person, each will have an integrated view of the individual’s health needs in these five clinical impact areas. They will all be on the same page regarding medications, test results and care plans. This not only leads to more effective management of diabetes and other chronic conditions but also reduces the frustration patients often experience when care is disconnected and uncoordinated.

Taken together, improved interactions and data-fueled insights paint a picture of complete end-to-end condition management with many options for engagement and support. That is what is needed to improve our standard of care for diabetes and other chronic conditions. With integrated care teams, digital and virtual solutions and data technologies, we can stay connected to more people, on their terms and comfort levels, and help them to more successfully manage their chronic health conditions today and well into the future.

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Expanding COVID-19 testing for those who need it most

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Communities across the country are grappling with how to recover and rebuild during COVID-19, especially in traditionally underserved neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic. As just one example, although African Americans make up 14 percent of the overall population in Michigan https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/MI/PST045219, they account for approximately 31 percent of COVID-19 cases and 40 percent of deaths caused by the virus in the state.https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98163_98173---,00.html

We firmly believe that increasing the availability of COVID-19 testing and improving access — especially for those who need it most — is a crucial step toward recovery. Given our local presence in communities across the country, we are uniquely positioned to play a significant role in community-based testing efforts.

We are expanding access to testing in communities and neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19, even beyond the more than 1,200 testing sites we have available at CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations across the country.  To accomplish this we’ve partnered with national organizations such as the National Medical Association, local community groups including free and charitable clinics and community colleges, and state government and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Working with our community partners is an important part of our comprehensive testing strategy, as it allows us to tap into the network of a trusted organization with strong community ties,” said David Casey, Chief Diversity Officer, and Vice President, Workforce Strategies, for CVS Health. “Given our longstanding commitment to underserved communities, it only made sense to expand our testing efforts to the areas of greatest need and leverage our partners to help get the word out.”

A woman holds a nasal swab as part of a COVID-19 test while a medical professional, (wearing personal protective equipment) advises her on to use the swab to conduct the test.

These test sites are hosted by our community-based partners within their facilities, so they are familiar to and more easily accessible for nearby residents who may not have a personal vehicle or reliable transportation. All of our community-based test sites can accommodate patients arriving on foot, and appointments are made by phone, so patients do not need internet access. Signage is offered in English and Spanish, and testing is available to patients at all of our test sites at no cost.

At this time, we are planning to open ten community-based testing locations.

Our expanded testing efforts are just one example of CVS Health’s commitment to diverse communities, which also includes sponsoring free Project Health screenings in predominately Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx neighborhoods, workforce development programs that break down barriers to gainful employment, and supporting a variety of efforts that address Social Determinants of Health.

“Having seen the data that pointed to disparate impacts in Black and Brown communities, we knew we needed to do more when it comes to providing testing access,” said Casey. “Through our community testing sites, we are able to meet people where they are, bringing to life our company’s Purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”

Several people walking into a CVS Health community test center in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Aetna Better Health Medicaid: COVID-19 FAQs and resources

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Will Aetna Better Health cover the cost of COVID-19 testing for Medicaid members?

Aetna Better Health is waiving member cost-sharing for diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. The test can be done by any approved testing facility. The policy aligns with new Families First legislation and regulations requiring all health plans to provide coverage of COVID-19 testing without cost share. Per guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), all health plans must cover certain serological (antibody) testing with no cost-sharing. This benefit does not apply to Aetna Better Heath of NY since medical benefits are not covered. Please call your medical benefits administrator for your testing coverage details.

I asked for a COVID-19 test, but my doctor said I don’t need one. What are my options?

Your doctor is in the best position to advise if testing is needed based on your symptoms. With tests in limited supply, providers are using a strict set of guidelines to determine when testing is appropriate.

If your symptoms change, contact your doctor again.

Will Aetna Better Health cover the cost of COVID-19 treatment for Medicaid members?

Aetna Better Health will cover the treatment of COVID-19 or health complications associated with COVID-19. Aetna Better Health members with questions about these specific benefits are encouraged to call the member services phone number on the back of their ID cards. This benefit does not apply to Aetna Better Heath of NY since medical benefits are not covered. Please call your medical benefits administrator for your testing coverage details.

What is telemedicine and will Aetna Better Health cover the cost of telemedicine for Medicaid members?

Telemedicine is health care delivery, evaluation, diagnosis, consultation, or treatment, conducted through audio, video or data communications by a health care practitioner who is physically separated from their patient. Telehealth/telemedicine can include:

  • Live videoconferencing with providers

  • Telephone-only consultations with providers

  • Services provided by telemedicine vendors like MDLive and Teladoc®

  • CVS MinuteClinic offers a telemedicine option for Aetna Better Health Medicaid members called E-Clinic visits. These visits are covered by most Aetna Better Health Medicaid plans where brick and mortar Minute Clinics reside. Currently, Aetna Better Health of West Virginia and Aetna Better Health of New York do not cover this benefit. For more details, visit MinuteClinic.com.

Regulations regarding telehealth services available to Aetna Better Health Medicaid members vary by state and, in some cases, are changing in light of the current situation. Aetna Medicaid members are encouraged to visit their health plan website or refer to their provider directory to identify in-network doctors that can potentially deliver virtual care. Aetna Better Health Medicaid members with questions about these specific benefits are encouraged to call the member services phone number on the back of their ID cards.

Are MinuteClinic Video Visits covered by Aetna Better Health Medicaid plans?

At this time, MinuteClinic Video Visits are not covered by Aetna Better Health Medicaid plans.

What is CVS Pharmacy® doing to help our Aetna Better Health Medicaid members with pharmacy benefits in response to COVID-19?

Aetna Better Health is offering 90-day maintenance medication prescriptions and waiving early refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications for all members with pharmacy benefits administered through CVS Caremark.

CVS Pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of prescription medications. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encouraging individuals at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay at home as much as possible, this is a convenient option to avoid visiting the pharmacy for refills or new prescriptions.

Aetna Better Health Medicaid members with questions about specific pharmacy benefits are encouraged to call the member services phone number on the back of their ID cards. These benefits do not apply to Aetna Better Heath of NY or Aetna Better Health of WV as pharmacy benefits are not available under these plans. Please call your pharmacy benefits administrator for your coverage details.

What else is CVS Health doing to support Aetna Better Health Medicaid members?

Through existing care management programs, Aetna Better Health has been proactively reaching out to Medicaid 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. If you would like to speak with a case manager, call the member services phone number on the back of your ID card.

Aetna Resources For Living (RFL) is also offering support and resources to individuals and organizations who have been impacted by Coronavirus. Through this liberalization, those in need of support can access RFL services whether or not they have it as part of their benefits. Individuals and organizations who don’t have RFL can contact RFL at 1-833-327-AETNA (1-833-327-2386). Support to individuals and organizations that don’t have RFL includes:

  • In-the-moment phone support to help callers cope with the emotional impact of the COVID-19 outbreak

  • Informational brochures about dealing with a crisis

  • Community resource referrals, including local support services in the local area

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CVS Health establishes 1,000 COVID-19 test sites across the country

CVS Health establishes 1,000 COVID-19 test sites across the country
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Successfully delivers on commitment to meaningfully expand access to testing

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Delivering on a commitment the company made in April, CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) will open additional COVID-19 test sites at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations on Friday, May 29 to establish a total of 1,000 sites across more than 30 states and Washington, DC.

"It's no small feat to operationalize 1,000 test sites in weeks under trying circumstances, which is a credit to our employees and their unwavering commitment to being part of the solution," said Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO, CVS Health. "Our testing strategy will continue to evolve and make the most effective use of our resources as we work to help safely re-open the economy."

Since first offering COVID-19 testing at a pilot site outside a CVS Pharmacy in Shrewsbury, Mass., in mid-March, the company has performed nearly 200,000 tests nationwide. Beginning in June, CVS Health has a goal of processing up to 1.5 million tests per month subject to availability of supplies and lab capacity.

More than half of the company's 1,000 test sites will serve communities with the greatest need for support, as measured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index. The index tracks a variety of census variables including poverty, lack of access to transportation, and crowded housing that may weaken a community's ability to prepare for and recover from hazardous events like natural disasters and disease outbreaks.

"Through our network of physicians, including our state and local associations/societies, we have been encouraging community members to use the hundreds of COVID-19 testing sites that CVS Health has established across the country, and have been providing information on how to slow the spread of the virus," said Dr. Oliver T. Brooks, President of the National Medical Association. "We will continue to work together to increase access to COVID-19 testing, particularly to underserved communities that are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic."

Self-swab tests at participating CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations will be available to individuals meeting CDC and state criteria who register in advance at CVS.com to schedule an appointment. Testing will not take place inside any CVS Pharmacy, MinuteClinic or HealthHUB locations, which remain open to serve customers and patients. Tests will be sent to an independent, third-party lab for processing and the results will be available in approximately three days.

More information on steps CVS Health has taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including support for health care providers and clinicians facing financial and administrative strain, is available at the company's frequently updated COVID-19 resource center.

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 www.cvshealth.com.

Media contact

T.J. Crawford
212-457-0583
crawfordt2@aetna.com

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Addressing food insecurity in local communities

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A volunteer (wearing a face mask) loads temperature-sensitive food into an insulated bag for distribution. A woman in a red coat observes him loading the insulated bag.

Families across the country are facing significant challenges as they work to keep people safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, for many families, these health concerns are coming hand-in-hand with an unfamiliar worry: food insecurity. Lost jobs, reduced incomes and loss of access to school lunches have left many struggling with having enough to eat. Across the country, local nonprofits are stepping up with expanded services and innovative approaches to meet the sudden surge of need in their communities — and CVS Health is joining them to help. CVS Health and The CVS Health Foundation have provided more than $900,000 to organizations in local communities working to provide food to vulnerable populations, especially school-aged children, seniors, and the uninsured.

A $250,000 grant to Feeding America supported efforts to pack and deploy emergency food boxes to high-need areas across the country, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New York and Washington. These boxes will help local food banks provide children, families, and seniors with the food and nutrition they need, even as the need for food assistance increases.

A volunteer arranges pre-packaged cooked meals, in sealed containers, on a tray for distribution.

Many other organizations have developed entirely new approaches to respond to the unique needs created by COVID-19 and CVS Health is proud to support this work in the communities we serve. In Kansas City, Missouri, Feed Northland Kids received a grant of $20,000 to develop Community Food Kits. With shelf-stable foods, these kits are provided to families through in-school pantries, which will help address food insecurity among school-age children. And in Austin, Texas, a $25,000 grant to the Central Texas Food Bank helped the organization shift to a drive-through model to allow clients to still receive food while ensuring safety for clients, staff, and volunteers. Safety is a top concern at many nonprofits; Community Servings in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, used a $15,000 grant to streamline operations and continue to distribute more than 2,000 food boxes in April, even without the assistance of the as many as 75 volunteers they previously relied on each day.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented need and continues to present unique challenges in meeting that need. At CVS Health, we’re proud to support the local organizations that are rising to the challenge to continue to feed their communities.

To stay up-to-date on the latest CVS Health Social Responsibility news and content, sign up for email news alerts.

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