Health Care Innovators is a new event series by POLITICO, and sponsored by CVS Health, highlighting the new faces and best practices in health care innovation. At the series’ first event, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, and General Counsel Tom Moriarty sat down with Patrick Steel, CEO of POLITICO, to discuss our commitment to addressing the nation’s most pressing health care challenges, including access to affordable care, prescription drug costs and the opioid
The Rise of the Consumer as Health Care Decision Maker
Delivering better care at a lower price is a long sought goal in the health care system according to Mr. Steel, and it is a goal where Mr. Moriarty sees progress. Recent trends that empower patients as consumers are helping to ensure the system is responding to their needs and desires, particularly around affordability, transparency and convenience.
With the rise in enrollment in high-deductible health plans, patients are taking more responsibility for their health care decisions and costs, creating increased demand for affordable, high-quality care options. As an example, Mr. Moriarty pointed to CVS Health MinuteClinic locations, which give individuals seeking care for many acute conditions an alternative to high cost emergency rooms.
Mr. Moriarty emphasized that CVS Health is well-positioned to support the health care needs of patients in their own communities so they can conveniently access care when they need it. In fact, eight out of 10 Americans live within 10 miles of a CVS pharmacy, and 62 percent of people report going to their local pharmacy at least once a month.
Solutions to Address Rising Drug Prices
Noting the increased focus among patients, policymakers and the health care industry to address rising drug prices, Mr. Steel questioned Mr. Moriarty about what should be done to rein in costs. Key to tackling this challenge, Mr. Moriarty stated, is creating a regulatory framework that allows the private sector to innovate and bring solutions to the marketplace.
CVS Health has long been committed to utilizing all possible tools to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. These tools, combined with increasing competition in the marketplace by making more generics available, increasing the use of biosimilars, and advocating for eliminating tactics that stall competition, are essential in tackling the problem of high cost drugs.
The company provides universal availability of rebates at the point of sale as an option for all clients to help their members save on out of pocket costs, leading to greater transparency in drug prices and demonstrating the true cause of rising drug costs for consumers: high list prices set by pharmaceutical manufacturers. In addition, Mr. Moriarty highlighted the company’s recently announced efforts to drive savings at the pharmacy counter by expanding visibility into benefit information for patients, physicians and pharmacists, making it easier to identify the lowest cost option based on an individual’s specific benefit plan.
Mitigating the Impact of the Opioid Epidemic
Responding to Mr. Steel’s question about the opioid epidemic, Mr. Moriarty observed that the crisis did not happen overnight. When the issue began escalating in 2011, CVS Health invested in data and analytics to better track and determine if prescriptions seen at the pharmacy were legitimate.
As the result of several strategies, the volume of opioids dispensed from CVS Pharmacy decreased by 30% over the past five years. In addition, the enterprise introduced a policy in 2017 to limit the supply of opioid prescriptions to “opioid naïve” patients to seven days in alignment with guidelines by the CDC.
Properly disposing of the existing supply of unused prescriptions sitting in peoples’ medicine cabinets, which are a common target of misuse, is crucially important according to Mr. Moriarty. Through CVS Health’s efforts to expand access to convenient disposal locations in pharmacies and through partnerships with law enforcement, 350,000 pounds, or 158 metric tons, of medication has been safely removed from homes.
For more information on how CVS Health is working to expand access to more affordable and effective health care, check out our Cost of Care information center and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.