In a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday (May 19), CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo wrote that he hopes returning the funds will allow the agency to provide support to other providers facing significant financial challenges as a result of COVID-19.
The fund provides $175 billion to hospitals and healthcare providers involved in the coronavirus response, according to HHS. CVS received the funds from the first $30 billion of aid HHS distributed last month. The grants are automatically based on Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements.
The Rhode Island-based company, which employs more than 10,000 nurses and provides healthcare services at its MinuteClinics, said it did not request the funds, which were meant to reimburse healthcare providers for expenses or lost revenues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As you know, CVS Health did not solicit these funds but received them as part of an automatic distribution by the Department of Health and Human Services,” Merlo wrote. “We have made the decision to return the funds and forgo participation in subsequent disbursements."
"In my view, returning these funds is part of CVS Health’s overall plan to do everything we can to help the communities we serve respond to the pandemic. We look forward to our continued partnership,” he added.
CVS Health has continued to operate during the pandemic. In March, the chain said it would hire 50,000 people nationwide. Earlier this month, the company announced it would expand its COVID-19 testing capabilities.
Merlo said CVS plans to establish an additional 1,000 COVID-19 testing sites at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations by the end of May.
“Recognizing that underserved communities are disproportionately affected by the virus, more than half of those sites will serve communities with the greatest need as measured by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index,” Merlo added.