CVS Caremark Launches Efforts to Tackle Health Disparities


The organization expands existing initiatives to address systemic inequities with long-term, collaborative focus on community-based programs for serious chronic illness patients.

CVS Caremark, the Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) of CVS Health, recently announced an expansion of its efforts to decrease health disparities among patients with certain conditions including sickle cell, HIV, and cardiovascular disease by collaborating with local partners and utilizing its unique enterprise assets.

The PBM is increasing its investments in programs that address barriers to care and developing additional initiatives to help disadvantaged populations and alleviate inequities in the U.S. healthcare system.

CVS Caremark’s approach will focus on the following principles:

  • A four-pillar programmatic approach:
    1.) awareness and educational resources
    2.) testing and screening
    3.) access to health services
    4.) treatment optimization interventions
  • Collaborate with community-based organizations and patient advocacy groups to deliver care where the people are.
  • Utilize enterprise assets including health care services available in CVS HealthHUB locations and legacy corporate social responsibility programs such as Project Health where appropriate.
  • Measure and share results on an ongoing basis for continuous learning.

“We serve one in three Americans and have the information and insights that help us understand not just where the disparities in care are occurring but, most importantly, why,” said President of CVS Caremark and Executive Vice President of CVS Health, Alan Lotvin M.D. “We know systemic inequities have existed for decades and can’t be solved by one person, community or company. We believe we have the obligation and the ability to partner with others to change the health trajectory for many patients who have been impacted by them for too long.”

CVS Caremark is working with its clients to create health equity strategies for PBM members with certain conditions that disproportionately affect patients of color. The company will also use its broad reach and collaborate with community partners to determine the best ways to influence systemic change for those who’ve struggled with disease for many years and for newly diagnosed members.

Among its goals are doubling the number of patients on hydroxyurea for people living with sickle cell disease (SCD), improving adherence among those already on the drug, and significantly increasing trait testing. SCD is an incredibly painful disease that primarily affects communities of color and left untreated can lead to life-threatening complications.

Hydroxyurea, a low-cost medication, can help patients better manage their condition by reversing the sickling of blood cells. In some areas the number of people with SCD has doubled because many people who carry the trait that can lead to developing the condition, are not aware of it. Increasing trait testing starting with greater awareness and education, can help consumers make more informed decisions. CVS Caremark plans to work with national and community organizations to understand the needs of local communities and develop programs to increase awareness and access.

The company is also adding to existing initiatives to increase awareness about HIV testing and prevention for CVS Caremark members, particularly among communities of color by sharing educational resources with those at risk, and helping patients initiate preventive therapy when appropriate. These efforts are incremental to the company’s ongoing participation in the Ready, Set, PrEP initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services aimed at eliminating 90% of new HIV infections by 2030 and helping end the AIDS epidemic. While a multitude of social, economic and demographic factors impact HIV transmission rates throughout the U.S., low-income individuals, minorities (especially African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos) and LGBTQ+ populations are among the most vulnerable to HIV.

For cardiovascular disease, CVS Caremark aims to increase initiation of medication therapy amongst people facing health disparities and help ensure those already on treatment are on an optimized dosage to reach their target blood pressure and staying adherent to their regimen.

In all disease areas, the company will work with local community organizations and advocacy groups to ensure those facing health inequities have access to the resources and care they need.

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