CVS, the convenience store chain that boasts it has “listened to customers and operated stores to meet their needs,” apparently draws the line when it comes to serving poor people. According to an Associated Press report, CVS recently began turning away prescriptions from 105,000 low-income participants in Pennsylvania’s HealthChoices program, which serves people on Medicaid. CVS reportedly told the state that its payments were too low.”With the reimbursement lvels currently in effect,” said one CVS spokesman, “it’s just not feasible for us economically to fill the prescriptions.” The AP story claims that nearly half a million low income subscribers in the Health Partners HMO will also be turned away from CVS stores. Meanwhile, another independent drug store in Kennett Square, PA had this sign in their store: “Please help us help our neighbors in need. Thatcher Drugs…is losing money by filling public assistance prescriptions. We are determined to operate at a loss as we care for all our patients. Due to increase volume, you may be kept waiting a little longer and may not get an entire prescription on some limited prescriptions. Everyone will get the medications they need. No one will be without. We thank you for your understanding and support during this crisis.
The CVS company will have 1998 revenues of $15 billion. It controls more than 4,100 stores, employs 80,000 workers, and fills roughly 12% of the prescritions in America. Yet this proud American industry leader cannot dispense medications to Pennsylvania’s poorest citizens, while a small, struggling independent pharmacist with no corporate financing, says “no one will be without.” To comment on CVS’s policy, go to www.cvs.com, and email them. Or, you can write to them at: CVS, One CVS Drive, Woonsocket, RI 02895. Their phone number is 401-765-1500. This country’s number 1 company in pharmaceutical sales should be able to work something out with the state of Pennsylvania better than simply turning poor people out the door.