CVS Health pledges $100M toward tackling social determinants of health on heels of Aetna deal

CVS Pharmacy
CVS Health and Aetna are launching the Building Healthier Communities initiative. (Getty/Serenethos)

Following CVS Health's $69 billion acquisition of Aetna, the company is pledging $100 million over the next five years toward improving community health.

The Building Healthier Communities initiative will take place over the course of five years and will be funded by the newly combined company and their associated foundations. The project’s investments in the social determinants of health include providing screenings and pushing the company’s employees to volunteer locally, CVS Health announced

The project was unveiled in Washington, D.C., on Monday afternoon. At the event, CVS CEO Larry Merlo said that the company has long focused on leveraging its diverse set of tools to improve community health, and this program is a natural extension of that work. 

“Our company’s purpose is helping people on their path to better health,” Merlo said. “At CVS Health, we have a sense of urgency about the need to bring real change to healthcare—because the current system isn’t working, and worse, it’s not sustainable.” 

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Part of the funding will go to expanding CVS’ existing Project Health campaign, which aims to provide people in underserved and underinsured regions with free health screenings, including blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose. CVS will also invest in a number of local programs, including Meals on Wheels and community health clinics, to reach these patients, it announced. 

A significant focus will be in supporting “innovative” approaches to managing chronic conditions, according to CVS. It will partner with groups like the American Cancer Society and American Diabetes Association to tackle these conditions. CVS has already joined forces with the American Heart Association, for example, to invest more than $4 million in adding blood pressure kiosks in a number of regions. 

Other focus areas will include the opioid epidemic and continued work on smoking cessation, CVS said. 

“Communities across America aren’t all the same—how we strengthen healthcare at the community shouldn’t be either,” Merlo said. 

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The Aetna Foundation will also spearhead the joint company’s participation in the U.S. News & World Report’s Healthiest Communities rankings, which can identify an individual community's needs.  

The Aetna Foundation already supports a number of community health programs, CVS said in the announcement. In addition, employees have pledged $10 million hours' worth of community service annually, Merlo said.