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CVS still eyeing primary care

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

CVS, which lost to Amazon on a bid for primary care player One Medical, said in an earnings call today it plans to acquire or take a stake in a primary care company by year-end.

Why it matters: Amid competition from Amazon, which paid nearly $4 billion for ONEM, and pharmacy peers like Walgreens, CVS is determined to get its piece of the primary care pie.

What they're saying: CEO Karen Lynch said CVS is looking for a provider with a strong management and technology background, with capacity for rapid growth.

State of play: With insurer Aetna and pharmacy benefits manager Caremark, CVS has access to a significant swath of the healthcare market already.

  • Currently, patients can receive vaccines and urgent care at CVS MinuteClinics, but the company has been floating the idea of buying doctor practices since late last year.
  • Since Amazon's surprise ONEM takeover, other public primary care players have come into focus as potential targets, including CareMax, Cano, Agilon, ApolloMed and Oak Street Health.
  • Jeff Gamble, the founder of concierge primary care network Rezilient Health, theorized that CVS might pursue Teladoc, which is already Aetna's exclusive telehealth provider.

The bottom line: Though CVS might have gotten bested on ONEM, it's clear the health giant is intent on pursuing a transformational primary care move.

  • CVS shares were up about 5% early this morning.
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