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CVS’ Merlo to keynote at health insurance industry expo

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health president and chief executive officer Larry Merlo is slated to deliver a keynote address today on public health challenges at the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Institute and Expo in Las Vegas.

Larry Merlo, CEO CVS Caremark

Larry Merlo

Merlo, whose presentation is titled “Corporate America’s Role in Reducing Chronic Illness and Delivering Better Health,” is scheduled to speak at 5 p.m. (PT) on Thursday during the general session at the AHIP Institute and Expo, which began on Wednesday and runs through Friday.

CVS Health executive vice president and chief medical officer Troyen Brennan also is scheduled to deliver a presentation, titled “Market-Driven Approaches to Managing the Rise in Drug Prices,” in a Friday morning breakfast briefing at 7:30 a.m. (PT).

CVS said Thursday that Merlo and Brennan will shed light on how new models of patient care and delivery can address escalating rates of chronic diseases and rein in health care costs for payers and patients.

“Between now and 2030, the cumulative cost of chronic illness is projected to grow to $42 trillion and, despite all efforts to encourage Americans to live healthier lifestyles, we don’t seem to be gaining ground,” Merlo says in his keynote speech. “I believe the way to find solutions is to look at the problems through the eyes of your customers. And at CVS Health, we are working to do just that by collaborating with stakeholders across the health care continuum — including patients, caregivers, providers and payers — to provide better, more cost-effective care.”

Merlo also will outline patient care delivery schemes that boost health care choice, quality and access to yield better health outcomes, according to CVS. Examples will include the growing role of retail health clinics, such as CVS MinuteClinic, in providing high-quality care in convenient, low-cost settings and the proliferation of on-demand digital tools that facilitate disease management easier and improve health care delivery.

CVS noted that Merlo also will highlight the cost-effectiveness of pharmacy care as a solution for mitigating overall health care costs. “In fact, increasing medication adherence for chronic diseases such as high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension results in significant returns of five to nine times that of the additional pharmacy spend and could drive billions in costs out of the health care system,” Merlo says in his speech.

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Troyen Brennan

In his address on Friday, Brennan will explain how CVS Caremark, CVS Health’s pharmacy benefit management unit, is helping to control drug costs via innovative plan designs and evolving to adapt to a swiftly changing marketplace.

CVS said he will also spotlight factors impacting drug trend, including expensive specialty medicines plus brand drug price inflation and utilization.

“The problem today is that even though clinically effective and lower-cost generic alternatives are often available, we still see high brand utilization in certain categories, such as diabetes,” Brennan says in his address. “The most effective thing we can do is to move people from higher-cost branded drugs to their generic alternatives, which not only aligns with clinical practice guidelines but also reduces waste, saves money and can improve health outcomes.”

Other retail pharmacy executive speakers at the AHIP Institute and Expo include Adam Pellegrini, vice president of digital health at Walgreens; Ken Black, group vice president of compensation, benefits and shared services at Rite Aid; and Marcus Osborne, vice president of health and wellness transformation at Walmart.

Karen Staniforth, chief operating officer of Rite Aid subsidiary Health Dialog, and Peter Goldbach, chief medical officer of Health Dialog, also are participating in an event session.

AHIP president and CEO Marilyn Tavenner, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), opened the conference on Wednesday. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R.) is slated to give the closing keynote on Friday.


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