2020 Healthiest Communities Rankings: Improving health through data

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Location, location, location.

It plays a fundamental role in determining the health, well-being, and life expectancy of the approximately 330 million Americans around the country. A key component to creating long-lasting improvements in population health lies in the collection and analysis of data to identify and address the diverse needs of specific communities across the country.

The Aetna Foundation's multi-year collaboration with U.S. News & World Report on the Healthiest Communities rankings does just that, by providing data-based insights on how counties around the country are minimizing chronic diseases and providing access to health care at lower costs.

A look at 2020

The rankings assessed nearly 3,000 counties nationwide in 10 crucial categories – Community Vitality; Equity; Economy; Education; Environment; Food & Nutrition; Population Health; Housing; Infrastructure; and Public Safety. This year’s rankings also applied new metrics to provide an in-depth look at the unprecedented impact of COVID -19, and its relationship to the social determinants of health in communities across America.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to the existing disparities in our health care system that have a significant impact on underserved communities,” said Garth Graham, Vice President of Community Health and Chief Community Health Officer, CVS Health.

“Using data from the Healthiest Communities rankings can help create insight on how to better address COVID-19 at the community level, while also helping health care organizations develop solutions to combat the health inequities that have historically plagued underserved communities.”

America’s healthiest communities

For 2020, the top five Healthiest Communities scored above the national average in at least eight of the 10 categories. Taking the top spot as the healthiest community in the United States is Los Alamos County, New Mexico. The community – with a population of approximately 17,000 people, and  known as a major site of the Manhattan Project in the 1940’s –  received perfect scores in 12 metrics, and ranked among the best for low racial segregation and low preventable hospital admissions. Los Alamos was second on the annual listing in 2019.

Where did your county rank on the list? Find out on US News & Word Report's county profiles and rankings.

For more information on Healthiest Communities, follow coverage on Facebook and Twitter using #HealthiestCommunities

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CVS Health plans to double its COVID-19 drive-thru test sites to a total of more than 4,000 across the country

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Company has administered three million COVID-19 tests since March

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced plans to add more than 2,000 new COVID-19 drive-thru test sites at select CVS Pharmacy locations across the country to support the company's ongoing efforts to increase access to testing and help slow the spread of the virus.

CVS Health currently manages the largest number of independently run COVID-19 test sites in the country, and with these new locations the company expects to have more than 4,000 operating by mid-October. The new locations will open in waves over the next several weeks and build on the company's ability to support testing in 33 states and Washington, DC, beginning with the opening of more than 400 sites this Friday.

"Since opening our first test site in March, we've been able to quickly adapt to the changing landscape in order to make it easier for people in the communities we serve to access testing," said Jon Roberts, Chief Operating Officer, CVS Health and acting President, CVS Pharmacy. "We recognize the critical role testing plays in helping to manage the spread of the virus and are incredibly proud of how our teams have responded to this need while continuing to take care of our customers, clients and patients."

Self-swab tests are no cost to patients and available to individuals meeting 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. Patients must register in advance at CVS.com to schedule an appointment. A parent or legal guardian must complete the online registration for all minor patients, and patients 12 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when they come to be tested.

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 cars and proceed to either the pharmacy drive-thru window or a parking space or tent located in the parking lot or, in very limited locations, to enter a CVS store. Patients will be provided with a test kit and given instructions, and a CVS Pharmacy team member will observe the self-swab process.

Currently, most test results from specimens collected at CVS test sites across the country will be available within 2 to 3 days.

A complete list of CVS Pharmacy drive-thru test sites can be found 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 Health invests $13.7 million to renovate low-income housing, fund community programs in Columbus

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Investment in South Linden’s Rosewind community kicks-off the company’s nearly $600 million commitment to address racial inequality

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced it will invest $13.7 million to help renovate 230 low-income housing units at the Rosewind apartments in Columbus, Ohio. These funds will also be used to make significant improvements to the local community center and support new community programs in the area.

The investment kicks-off the company’s commitment of nearly $600 million over five years to address racial inequality and social determinants of health in Black communities.  This commitment includes an emphasis on increasing access to affordable housing, which is inextricably linked to health.

“When people have access to high-quality, affordable housing, it puts them in a better position to improve their overall wellbeing, including taking care of their health or managing a chronic disease,” said David Casey, Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health. “One aspect of our commitment to address racial inequality is addressing social determinants of health – like housing – at the community level, which is where we can make a meaningful impact.” 

CVS Health will work with the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) and the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing on the project.  Through CVS Health’s investment, CMHA will spend $50,000 per unit in much-needed rehab and repairs. 
  
“The redevelopment of Rosewind is part of CMHA’s $250 million investment in affordable housing in 2020,” said CMHA President and CEO Charles Hillman. “Stable housing provides a solid foundation, but people also need access to health care, employment, training and other services to reach their fullest potential. We’re excited to collaborate with CVS Health to provide new opportunities for our residents and revitalize the Linden community.”
 
Within the Rosewind complex in the South Linden neighborhood of Columbus, 95% of residents are Black and have an average annual household income of less than $17,000.  Average life expectancy in South Linden is just under 70 years – more than seven years shorter than the average in all of Franklin County, which includes Columbus and certain neighboring communities.

“Housing and health care go hand-in-hand, and health outcomes are impacted by housing affordability and stability,” said Peg Moertl, President and CEO, Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing. “We are pleased to be working with CVS Health and the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority to provide quality housing, economic support, and educational training opportunities to those families and individuals facing challenges in the Linden community.”

The renovations, as well as new community programming funded by CVS Health, will provide comprehensive local support to residents, including the following new on-site programs:

  • Health and wellness programming through CMHA and the Healthcare Collaborative of Greater Columbus to provide individuals with the best health care experience possible on-site;

  • On-site health screenings and COVID-19 testing to bring preventative health care services directly to the community, especially as the pandemic continues to expose health disparities among the Black population;

  • An educational cooking series with the nonprofit organization Local Matters, to increase access to fresh, nutritious foods and teach residents how to make healthy and tasty meals, which will improve their overall health outcomes;

  • Maternal programs – with 8.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Franklin County and 25.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in South Linden, there will be a new program to support maternal health at Rosewind that will equip new and pregnant mothers with parenting resources; 

  • Community programs where individuals will have the opportunity to have an open dialogue about the root causes of systemic inequalities and barriers.

CVS Health will also establish a new program at Rosewind as part of its ongoing workforce initiatives to provide employment services and training to the Rosewind community, focused on empowerment and building local relationships that will help community members achieve meaningful employment opportunities. 

"Finding ways to encourage housing that is affordable to everyone is not just the right thing to do," said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. "It helps the region remain competitive in attracting and retaining businesses."

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 each of the next five years to help address housing insecurities and promote community health improvement in Black communities. 

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.

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CVS Health encourages patients to pick up medications and supplies as Hurricane Sally approaches

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Across CVS Health, we’re actively preparing for Hurricane Sally’s landfall in the Gulf Coast region. Our priority is the safety of our employees, customers, and members, and we’re committed to providing our communities access to the products and services they need to prepare for the storm.  Our stores comply with all local evacuation orders and we’ll re-open any closed stores as soon as it is safe to do so. If a store is forced to close for two or more days, the pharmacy’s phone lines will be rerouted to a nearby open CVS Pharmacy so patients may continue to access their prescriptions.

As Hurricane Sally approaches, CVS Pharmacy has been reaching out to its patients via text message and email where possible to remind them to refill prescriptions. In addition, through CVS Caremark, CVS Health’s pharmacy benefit manager, the company has activated a process to provide one-time emergency refills of a 10-day supply of medication for plan members in impacted areas. Patients within the emergency area taking specialty medications filled by CVS Specialty will be contacted to discuss alternate delivery arrangements, if needed. And through our Aetna Business Unit, our clinical response teams have expanded their engagement with Medicare and Commercial members in potentially impacted counties in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida to ensure member safety, access to emergency services and continuity of care.

CVS Health also offers the following tips for assuring prescription needs are met for those potentially impacted by Hurricane Sally:

  • Follow local evacuation orders. Get to a safe location first and refill your medications at the nearest pharmacy. This allows you to avoid potentially long lines at your local pharmacy, and you won’t need to needlessly delay your evacuation.

  • Take a waterproof bag with your current medication – even if the bottle is empty. The information on the prescription label will help pharmacy staff with refill requests. Heat, humidity and sunlight can degrade the effectiveness of medicine, so try to protect it from extreme weather conditions.

  • Keep a written record of your current prescriptions in your valuable papers files. If you are taking several prescription drugs, it’s an especially good idea to keep a record of your current dosage and doctor’s contact information.

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CVS Health introduces special access to Apple Fitness+

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) announced today it is offering special access for its clients, customers and employees to Apple Fitness+, the first fitness experience built for Apple Watch, arriving later this year. CVS Health is developing a one-year subscription offer for Aetna commercial and CVS Caremark members and will share details soon. Additionally, a free two-month subscription for Fitness+ will be offered to CVS Pharmacy ExtraCare members and all current CVS Health employees when the service is launched.

Fitness+ intelligently incorporates metrics from Apple Watch for users to visualize right on their iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, offering a first-of-its-kind personalized workout experience. With Fitness+, everyone from beginners to fitness enthusiasts can access studio-style workouts delivered by inspiring world-class trainers underscored by motivating music from renowned artists, making it easier and more rewarding for users to exercise, whenever and wherever they like.

"Keeping people engaged and motivated on their path to better health is at the core of our business, which is why we are extending our collaboration with Apple to offer special access to Fitness+ through all the ways we connect with customers," said Jonathan Mayhew, Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer for CVS Health. "Innovative fitness offerings like Fitness+ are even more critical as people strive to maintain their health during these challenging times."

Today's announcement is a continuation of the relationship between Aetna, a CVS Health company, and Apple that originated in 2016 when 90 percent of participants in their employee wellness subsidy program reported a health benefit from their use of Apple Watch. In 2019, Aetna launched Attain, a unique health experience designed by Aetna in collaboration with Apple. Attain is a comprehensive integrated wellness program via direct-to-member app that blends activity-driven incentives and rewards with personalized health recommendations.

Following the launch of Fitness+ later this year, eligible CVS customers and employees will be provided details on how to subscribe to Fitness+ and take advantage of the trial offer.$9.99 per month or $79.99 per year after free trial. No commitment. Plan automatically renews until cancelled. Eligible Aetna commercial and CVS Caremark members will receive additional information when it is available. Fitness+ requires Apple Watch Series 3 or later paired with iPhone 6s or later or iPhone SE. One offer per Apple ID. Participants will be able to share their Fitness+ subscription with up to five other people in their family with Family Sharing. For more information on Fitness+, please visit Apple.com.

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 contacts

Ethan Slavin
SlavinE@aetna.com
860-273-6095

Carissa Falzarano
FalzaranoC@aetna.com
617-733-6189

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Aetna ships Caring for You kits to millions of Medicare members

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Aetna , a CVS Health company (NYSE: CVS), announced it will ship boxes of specially curated, over-the-counter items to all its Medicare Advantage members across the country.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and flu season begins, these Caring for You kits contain several items to help support Medicare members with simple self-care at home. Kits include a thermometer, hand sanitizer and two Aetna-branded face masks, among other items.

"During this challenging time when many of our most vulnerable members are home, we wanted to provide them with some convenient items to help them stay healthy," said Christopher Ciano, president of Aetna Medicare. "We know that something as basic as an oral thermometer can make a big difference during telehealth visits. Sending these types of important items to our members at no cost was simply the right thing to do."

The Caring for You kits are a one-time liberalization of an Aetna Medicare Advantage member over-the-counter benefit. Kits will be sent to members who were enrolled on or before August 1, 2020. The kits began shipping last week and will continue throughout the fall.

This action builds on overall efforts by Aetna to help its Medicare members during this public health emergency. For example, Aetna is waiving Medicare Advantage member cost shares for in-network primary care office visits and all telehealth visits for any reason through December 31, 2020.

More information on steps Aetna has taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic is available at AetnaMedicare.com/coronavirus.

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.

Plan features and availability may vary by service area.

Media contact

Ethan Slavin
860-273-6095
SlavinE@aetna.com

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Frank talk about suicide

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"Just asking if someone is OK could be life-saving."

When she was younger, Aimee Prange struggled with thoughts of suicide. Following multiple attempts to take her life, she is in a healthier place, having learned positive coping skills and — perhaps most critically — how to ask for help: “Recovery is absolutely possible,” she says.

Anyone can have suicidal thoughts, says Aimee, now a licensed social worker and manager with Aetna Behavioral Health. “People often have an image of what a suicidal person looks like or what that means for their life forever after. I’d like to be a part of changing that conversation. We have to talk about it.”

That’s why CVS Health is supporting National Suicide Prevention Month by expanding access to mental health and suicide prevention resources.

“The focus of the health care system should be on early identification and support,” says Cara McNulty, President of Aetna’s Behavioral Health unit and EAP. “We can address vulnerable populations, and we can reduce suicide attempts. Our message is: It’s preventable, and you're not alone. There is access to care, and you do not have to be in this much pain.”

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34. And, according to Cara, adolescents are especially vulnerable to pandemic-related grief. “We need to help these young adults access that grief, and that's going to take time. Without that grieving process, we will continue to see adolescent suicide rise.”

Young people of color face multiple vulnerabilities, Cara adds. “There are specific populations of Black and brown communities where we need to focus our efforts, so we are providing support.”

During the pandemic, CVS Health’s virtual mental health visits have exponentially increased. The company’s multifaceted approach to suicide prevention includes the Talk Saves Lives training program and a safety intervention for suicide attempt survivors. 

“If someone is dealing with anxiety or depression or suicide ideation, it's hard. To then say, ‘I need help,’ is really, really hard,” says Cara. “It’s so important that we have the courage to have conversations that help people feel included and accepted and seek the help and care they need.”

Aimee agrees. “Don’t assume somebody else will reach out. You’ve got to be the one to show there are people that care. That one little thing — just asking someone if they're OK — could be lifesaving. Don't wait.”

If you are thinking about suicide or know someone who is, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255).

Warning signs of suicide risk:

  • Withdrawing from activities

  • Sleeping a lot or sleeping very little

  • Aggression

  • Giving away possessions

  • Talking about hopelessness or being a burden to others

  • Increase in alcohol/drug use

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Tobacco-free resources

CVS Health remains the only national retail pharmacy to stop the sale of tobacco products. We are also committed to helping people lead tobacco free lives. Through our company and the CVS Health Foundation, we’re investing $50 million through 2020, through an initiative we call #BeTheFirst, which aims to help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.

We are working with leading anti-tobacco and youth organizations across the country to support comprehensive education, advocacy, tobacco control and healthy behavior programming. With our partners, we're working towards contributing to a 3% decline in youth smoking rate; a 10% decline in the number of new youth smokers; and doubling the number of tobacco-free colleges and universities.

As part of our initiative, we have invested in tobacco-free resources for students, parents, teachers, schools and youth organizations. These tools and curricula cover topics including the dangers of tobacco, e-cigarette use, healthy behaviors, and advocacy training. Below is a list of key resources that are available for youth-serving organizations to leverage:

Suicide rates are on the rise, how we’re working to reverse the trends

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While suicide rates have been increasing over the last 20 years, the COVID-19 pandemic is further threatening the mental well-being of all Americans. A CDC survey, conducted in June 2020, found that 11 percent of U.S. adults having seriously considered suicide 30 days prior to completing the survey. 

“To drive suicide prevention, everyone must play a role,” said Cara McNulty, President, Behavioral Health & EAP at CVS Health. “As employers, health care providers and community members – we have a collective responsibility to do more to intervene at times most vulnerable for those at-risk of suicide.”

CVS Health is committed to helping reverse the devastating suicide trends. We know it is our responsibility as a leading health company to use our voice to raise awareness of these rising rates and to expand our existing services to offer resources and support for Aetna members and the broader community.

Our commitment

Aetna Resources for Living

CVS Health has made Aetna’s Resources for Living (RFL) program available to everyone, whether or not they are covered in an Aetna insurance plan. RFL offers real-time phone support, informational content, community referrals and support for basic needs. Individuals who do not have RFL as an insurance plan benefit should call 1-833-327-AETNA (1-833-327-2386) (TTY:711) for assistance.

Improving clinical processes

We are continually evaluating Aetna’s clinical processes and addressing gaps that previously would have prevented care management teams from reaching members who may be suicidal.

  • Implementation of a new patient safety screener (PSS-3) tool for all members who speak to an Aetna Behavioral Health clinician by asking a series of questions about their mental well-being to help identify at-risk individuals and connect them with support and resources.

     

  • Continued offering of our safety planning template to help prevent future suicide attempts in members who have been recently discharged from the hospital.

  • Ongoing “touch base” contact postcards sent to members who were recently discharged from an inpatient stay following a suicide attempt with messaging to let them know that they are valued, their life is worth living, and that resources are available to them. Aetna is the only health insurer to send this type of communication to members.

  • Continued partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide and Prevention (AFSP) to offer their Talk Saves Lives online training program to help recognize the warning signs of suicide.

"Knowing the warning signs and how to intervene during the most vulnerable times is crucial to making a meaningful difference in suicide prevention,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer, AFSP. “By partnering with CVS Health, we are bringing critical resources and awareness to suicide prevention."

Learn about how you can support someone who is considering suicide in this guide from AFSP.

If you are thinking about suicide, know someone who is or need to talk with someone, we encourage you to immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 741741 to connect with a trained Crisis Text Line counselor.

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CVS Health makes COVID-19 testing available for children 12 years and older at its more than 2,000 drive-thru test sites

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Company adding more than 120 new test sites at select CVS Pharmacy locations

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — As part of its comprehensive effort to increase access to COVID-19 testing in order to help slow the spread of the virus, CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced that children age 12 years and older are eligible for testing at the more than 2,000 test sites located at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru testing locations, starting Friday, September 11. In addition, more than 120 new test sites will open Friday at CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations across the country.

"With schools opening across the country, there's an urgent need to make testing for minors more readily available," said Troyen Brennan, MD, Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. "In response, we've implemented a system that allows parents or guardians to register and accompany their children for a self-swab test close to home."

In recent weeks, CVS Health has expanded its network of independent third-party lab partners in an effort to help improve turnaround time for the delivery of test results. As a result, the majority of test results from specimens collected at CVS test sites across the country will generally be available within 2 to 3 days.

Self-swab tests are no cost to patients and will be available to individuals meeting 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. Patients must register in advance at CVS.com to schedule an appointment. Minors ages 12 and older are now eligible for COVID-19 testing at CVS Pharmacy drive-thru sites. A parent or legal guardian must complete the on-line registration for all minor patients, and patients 12 to 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when they come to be tested. Parents or guardians seeking testing for children under the age of 12 should consult with a pediatrician to identify appropriate testing options.

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 cars and proceed to either the pharmacy drive-thru window or a parking space or tent located in the parking lot or, in very limited locations, to enter a CVS store. Patients will be provided with a test kit and given instructions, and a CVS Pharmacy team member will observe the self-swab process.

To date, CVS Health has administered more than three million COVID-19 tests since launching its first test site in the parking lot of a CVS Pharmacy location in Shrewsbury, Mass. in March.

A complete list of CVS Pharmacy drive-thru test sites can be found 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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