January 16, 2019

Around the nation: Walmart plans to exit CVS Caremark networks

Daily Briefing
    CVS has requested that Walmart remain in-network through April 30, but if Walmart rejects those terms, the split would be finalized in February, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Arkansas, California, Maine, and Rhode Island.
    • Arkansas/Rhode Island: Walmart, one of the biggest pharmacy operators in the country, intends to leave the network of CVS Health's pharmacy benefits manager, CVS Caremark, over a pricing dispute, though the two sides may reach a compromise, according to the Wall Street Journal. CVS Caremark President Derica Rose said Walmart is seeking higher reimbursement rates that would increase costs for Caremark customers—though a person familiar with Walmart's position said Walmart has asked CVS to keep rates at existing levels. According to Bloomberg, Walmart said it was resisting CVS' efforts to direct consumers toward certain pharmacies to fill prescriptions. CVS has requested that Walmart remain in-network through April 30, but if Walmart rejects those terms, the split would be finalized in February. The split would affect Caremark's Medicaid beneficiaries and privately insured patients but not its Medicare plans (Paavola, Becker's Hospital Review, 1/15; Langreth/Boyle, Bloomberg, 1/15; Wilde Mathews/Nassauer, Wall Street Journal, 1/15).

    • California: Doctors say they were not given advance notice that a new state prescribing law took effect Jan. 1, and as a result pharmacies are rejecting prescriptions for controlled substances. The new law requires providers to use tamper-proof forms that contain a unique serial number for controlled substance prescriptions. Assembly member Evan Low (D), who sponsored the measure, in a statement Monday acknowledged the law's implementation has not gone smoothly and said he is committed to finding a solution (Anderson, Sacramento Bee, 1/14).

    • Maine: Central Maine Healthcare has named Peter Wright as president of its hospitals in Bridgton and Rumford. Wright most recently served as CEO of Valley Regional Healthcare and has previously served as COO of Littleton Regional Hospital, both in New Hampshire (Vaidya, Becker's Hospital Review, 1/11).

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