What Aetna’s CEO and CVS’s CEO stated about one another

On Thursday, The Wall Avenue Journal first reported that CVS Well being (CVS) had been in talks to purchase Aetna (AET) for greater than $200 per share, or round $66 billion.

Some badysts have been fast to name such a deal “insane.” Many badysts noticed a chance to streamline and reduce prices within the drug provide chain. Just a few badysts prompt this might be the start of mbadive adjustments in the way in which healthcare is dealt with America, the place prices are unusually excessive and rising.

In current weeks and months, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini and CVS CEO Larry Merlo have each individually spoken publicly about issues in US healthcare they usually each superior options they’ve had in thoughts. The 2, who’re ‘good’ badociates, even acknowledged that they discuss to one another.

Their very own phrases would counsel a merger between CVS, the pharmacy retailer that additionally operates walk-in clinics and a pharmacy profit supervisor, and Aetna, the nation’s third-largest insurer, might the start of falling healthcare prices.

Why can’t CVS be the primary cease for healthcare?

“We’re speaking with CVS who has 9,000 shops inside three miles of 80% of the American public,” Bertolini stated at a Fortune journal occasion this spring. “Ought to [CVS] be within the enterprise of seasonal gadgets or DME? Why can’t they be first cease exterior the house locally for healthcare when they’re proper across the nook?”

He added that folks see their pharmacist much more than they see their physician.

“We gotta get this kind of sense locally that we’re there for them,” Bertolini advised Fortune. “And there are all types of badets accessible to able to deploy. It’s actually a logistical functionality.”

Talking at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit final week, Aetna’s CEO made a case for why the U.S. healthcare supply system is damaged. He identified that the U.S. spends essentially the most on healthcare among the many OECD nations, however nonetheless falls behind.

“Once you add collectively our healthcare spend and our social spend, we are actually 11th among the many OECD nations. We’re the one nation that spends greater than 40% on healthcare,” Bertolini stated. “The remainder of the nations spend lower than 40% on healthcare. The US spends 62%. Our lack of funding in social determinants of well being has led to a rating of we’re No. 34 out of 34 within the OECD nations from the standpoint of worth. So this can be a worth downside.”

Yahoo Finance’s Julia La Roche interviews Aetna chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini. (Cindy Ord/Getty Photos)

Bertolini has lengthy argued that the way in which to deal with hovering healthcare prices is by essentially altering how America thinks about healthcare. Presently, it gives “too little” give attention to creating “productive, viable, completely happy folks.” Primarily, the dearth of funding on the social facet is what’s driving healthcare prices. For example his level, Bertolini highlighted the opioid epidemic, noting that People eat 80% of the opioids produced.

“We’ve a society that’s not completely happy,” he stated.

In the meanwhile, the U.S. healthcare system is targeted on ready till individuals are damaged to repair them. That’s not working. In consequence, Bertolini thinks the definition of well being must be redefined.

“I believe we should always outline well being is a wholesome particular person is productive, a productive particular person is socially, economically, and bodily viable and viable individuals are completely happy,” he stated.

To attain this, occupied with well being must be moved from the examination desk to the kitchen desk, in line with Bertolini. In different phrases, they should get into the house.

Pharmacists can play a way more energetic, supporting position

At a breakfast hosted by the Financial Membership of New York this month, CVS CEO Larry Merlo additionally made a case of how the pharmacist might play a extra energetic position.

“There’s super alternative to make healthcare way more efficient by participating with sufferers extra regularly the place they’re in coordinating care to make a fancy system a lot simpler to navigate,” Merlo stated.

He went on to quote some jarring statistics about healthcare prices. About half of the U.S. inhabitants has a power sickness with greater than 80% of all healthcare spending going towards treating these diseases. Ineffective administration of power sickness and drugs related to these illnesses has resulted in additional than $300 billion in avoidable prices, in line with Merlo.

CVS Well being CEO Larry Merlo. (Financial Membership of New York / YouTube)

Merlo added that half of the sufferers don’t take medication as prescribed and as much as one-third of prescriptions written don’t get crammed. One in 5 sufferers discharged from the hospital will likely be readmitted inside 30 days. Lots of these readmissions are preventable and infrequently relate to a drugs situation.

He known as this “merely unsustainable” and why the pharmacist is crucial.

“Pharmacists can play a way more energetic, supporting position in every particular person’s distinctive well being expertise from advising them on the very best use of their drugs and enhancing treatment adherence or serving to to coordinate care extra successfully amongst a affected person’s healthcare suppliers,” Merlo stated.


CVS, which he known as the “entrance door” to healthcare, touches the lives of 1 in three People. When it’s come to addressing the opioid disaster, CVS determined to position a restrict of seven days of treatment for sure acute prescription wants.

Just some years in the past, CVS determined to take away cigarettes and tobacco gross sales from inside its shops. CVS was just about alone in that transfer. Merlo is hoping that will probably be totally different with regards to addressing the opioid situation.

“It’s merely the fitting factor to do. I believe on the tobacco determination we knew that was the fitting determination for our firm as we have been changing into extra of a healthcare firm,” Merlo stated on the Financial Membership.

“I see my good good friend Mark Bertolini right here from Aetna. I bear in mind Mark and I speaking about that call. You already know, how do you’ve got credibility to do all of the issues that we talked about this morning and on the similar time you’re delivering healthcare at the back of the shop you’re promoting tobacco merchandise within the entrance of the shop? We noticed that as a credibility and an integrity situation.”

To this point, CVS has seen a decline within the variety of opioid prescriptions they dispense by as a lot as one-third within the final 4 years, Merlo stated.

Watch Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini’s full interview from Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit:


Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo FinanceObserve her on Twitter.

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