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CVS' big ambitions

This image shows a CVS pharmacy sign that also says "24 hours"
Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

CVS' ambitions keep growing, but skepticism about those ambitions isn’t going away.

The big picture: Federal Judge Richard Leon signaled Tuesday that he's still concerned about the company's $69 billion merger with Aetna, but that deal is just one element of CVS' effort to push beyond the traditional role of a pharmacy.

  • As he opened a three-day hearing on the merger, Leon "reiterated … that he wants to look at any potential harm that the deal might cause for the public,” per Modern Healthcare.
  • The Justice Department's antitrust evaluation focused on Medicare Part D, and Aetna ultimately had to sell its Part D plans.
  • Leon asked Tuesday whether his analysis should stop there, or go further to "look at how these entities … will impact the greater market," Modern Healthcare reports.

What's next: CVS said Tuesday that it's expanding its HealthHub concept — stores with more space devoted to clinic services like screenings and dietary consultations.

  • CVS expects to operate 1,500 HealthHubs by the end of 2021, according to NBC News. (For context, CVS has about 9,800 retail locations today.)

The bottom line: There's big money in managing chronic diseases, especially as the population ages. And CVS is by no means the only company that's also hoping it can find big savings by moving more of that work under one corporate umbrella.

Go deeper: The consolidation of health insurance and drug benefits is back