FINANCE

Walmart to leave CVS Caremark pharmacy networks amid cost dispute

BY Marianne Wilson

CVS Health Corp. is losing Walmart as a pharmacy partner in two networks.

CVS said that Walmart has opted to leave the CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management commercial and managed Medicaid retail pharmacy networks. CVS Caremark has asked Walmart to fill these prescriptions as in-network through April 30.

The change will not affect Walmart’s participation in CVS Caremark’s Medicare Part D pharmacy network. Also, Walmart’s Sam’s Club will stay in the networks that Walmart is leaving.

The point of contention, according to CVS Health, is reimbursement rates.

“At a time when everyone is working hard to find ways to reduce health care costs, Walmart’s requested rates would ultimately result in higher costs for our clients and consumers,” CVS Caremark president Derica Rice, said. “While we have enjoyed a long relationship with Walmart as a low cost provider in our broad national networks, based on our commitment to helping our clients and consumers manage rising pharmacy costs, we simply could not agree to their recent demands for an increase in reimbursement.”

Rice said the company’s focus now is an orderly transition for any impacted plan members “and ensuring we place patient care as our highest priority.”

In a statement reported by CNBC, Walmart spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said that the company is “disappointed CVS chose not to come to a resolution in a way that is beneficial to their members who are also our customers.” McInnis also said that the retailer wants to pass along savings to their customers, not a middle man.

CVS Health said that less than 5% of affected CVS Caremark members currently solely use Walmart to fill their prescriptions. The company said that more than 63,000 other pharmacies remain in its national pharmacy network.

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