Statement: Reaction to CVS-Aetna Merger

The following is a statement from Theodore Christopher, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Dr. Christopher reacts to the U.S. Justice Department’s approval of CVS Health’s $69 billion bid to acquire insurer Aetna.
 
Theodore-Christopher-MDThe Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) is disappointed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision Wednesday (Oct. 10, 2018) to approve the CVS-Aetna merger. While requiring Aetna to divest its Medicare Part D drug plan business was a positive development, PAMED still fears this deal could reduce health care market competitiveness, endanger patient safety, and lessen the quality of care in Pennsylvania.
 
In September, PAMED called on Pennsylvania’s insurance department to hold a public hearing to explore the possible implications of this merger. We will continue to advocate for a public hearing.
 
Both Aetna and CVS are among the largest market players in their respective industries. In fact, according to 2017 statistics, Aetna owns the third highest market share of health insurers in Pennsylvania and services approximately 10 percent of the state’s Medicaid population. 
 
Likewise, CVS is one of the largest retail pharmacy chains in the country. CVS also owns a prominent part of the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) service market through its subsidiary CVS-Caremark.
 
As PAMED stated in its letter to both Pa. Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman and Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the merger could harm consumers by raising prices and lowering choice and quality in markets such as health insurance and PBM services. It also has the potential to endanger patient safety by allowing non-medical professionals to make treatment decisions based on corporate profit incentives rather than patients’ medical needs.
 
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The Pennsylvania Medical Society helps its 20,000 physician and medical student members return to the art of medicine through advocacy and education. Learn more by visiting www.pamedsoc.org or by following us on Twitter at @PAMEDSociety.
 

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