CVS Could Make $10 Billion Acquisition Of Senior Primary Care Clinics

The giant drugstore chain CVS Health Corp. is nearing an agreement to acquire Oak Street Health Inc., which would rapidly expand the company’s footprint of primary-care doctors.  This deal would balloon  its network of medical facilities specializing in senior health.  The deal is massive at roughly $10.5 billion and could be announced as early as next week.  The transaction would follow CVS’s $8 billion agreement to acquire home-care provider Signify Health Inc.  Oak Street has 160 centers across 21 states, focused on the care of patients enrolled in Medicare.

Pharmacies Reduce Hours Due To Pharmacist Shortage

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My local Safeway pharmacy began closing for lunch between 1:00 and 2:00 every day more than a year ago.  I find this annoying as many times I have forgotten that they would be closed and have shown up at 1:00 just as they are closing.  Even more annoying is coming back at 2:00 as there is always a long line of people who have been waiting around since 1:00 or 1:30.  The Wall Street Journal reported today that this is a phenomenon all across the country as there is a shortage of pharmacists.  CVS has announced that starting in March it will cut or shift hours at about two-thirds of its 9,000 U.S. locations.  Walmart also announced it will close at 7:00 p.m. rather than 9:00 p.m. at most of its 4,600 stores starting in March.  Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. recently stated it was operating thousands of stores on reduced hours because of staffing shortages.  Some customers have complained that pharmacies are cutting hours sporadically.  An online community message board for Holliston, Massachusetts—a small town about 30 miles from Boston—was flooded with messages from frustrated customers of the Holliston CVS.  “I would go in and there was a note on the door saying, ‘Sorry, pharmacy closed,’” Audra Friend told The Wall Street Journal.  She said it would be better to have consistently shorter hours if that means fewer unexpected closures.  “At least that way we’re not just showing up at CVS to find out the pharmacist isn’t there.  “

Free COVID-19 Tests Rolling Out For Seniors On Medicare

Millions of seniors on Medicare can get up to eight free coronavirus home tests each month from pharmacies at more than a dozen national and regional chain retailers.  This has been a long time coming but I will certainly keep my eyes peeled to see if these show up on the shelves.  Locations which are now committed, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, are Albertsons, Costco, CVS, Food Lion, Giant, Hannaford, H-E-B, Hy-Vee, Kroger Family, Rite Aid, Stop & Shop, Walgreens and Walmart.


CVS To Start Hiring Physicians

CVS Health Corp. announced it is going to fulfill its ambition of becoming a major provider of healthcare services by hiring physicians who will work at in-store clinics.  CVS acquired insurance giant Aetna in 2018 and said that now it will focus its M&A activity on growing its in-store doctor’s offices.  “We really believe that we need to kind of push into primary care, so we can influence the overall cost of care,” Karen Lynch, the CEO of CVS Health Corp., told The Wall Street Journal.