The American Medical Association (AMA) has officially come out against the proposed merger between CVS and Aetna. The two mega-corporations would consolidate a large part of the healthcare industry, and some are conflicted as to how to feel about it. Here’s what you need to know.
Pros of the merger
One large criticism of the American healthcare industry is how long it can take for a patient to see their primary care physician for non-emergency health issues. This can leave many people with the option of going to urgent care or the emergency room for their immediate healthcare needs, even if the issue is not necessarily an emergency.
CVS has already made efforts to combat this problem by opening walk-in clinics in many of their branches called MinuteClinics. A CVS-Aetna merger would further increase availability of physicians at these clinics to see patients in need of immediate healthcare needs without the price tag of the emergency room.
Cons of the merger
If the merger were to go through, the AMA believes, drug spending would increase, out-of-pocket expenses for patients would increase, and there would be a reduction in the quality of insurance. Although the worry is so far unfounded, they also fear Aetna would favor CVS and discriminate against patients who elect to use other pharmacies.
President of the AMA, Barbara McAneny said in a statement released by the group, “The AMA has come to the conclusion that this merger would likely substantially lessen competition in many health care markets, to the detriment of the patients.”
Larry Merlo, CVS Health President and CEO, countered by saying, “The combined company will be well-positioned to reshape the consumer health care experience, putting people at the center of health care delivery to ensure they have access to high-quality, more affordable care where they are, when they need it.”
The AMA, a special-interest lobby group, has opposed many ground-breaking healthcare movements in the past. When Medicare was passed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, the AMA was highly opposed to the measure, deeming it socialized medicine and un-American. They even solicited the help of Ronald Reagan to run a sort of smear campaign against the system. Now, Medicare is a beloved yet highly controversial American fixture, though that doesn’t stop House and Senate Republicans from threatening to make massive cuts to the healthcare program.