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DGX - Quest Diagnostics Inc News Story

$127.07 0.3  0.2%

Last Trade - 31/07/20

Sector
Healthcare
Size
Large Cap
Market Cap £13.04bn
Enterprise Value £15.88bn
Revenue £5.75bn
Position in Universe 507th / 6362

CVS to offer employers COVID-19 testing program as U.S. cases rise

Wed 24th June, 2020 12:00pm
By Caroline Humer
    NEW YORK, June 24 (Reuters) - As U.S. employers grapple with
trying to keep workers healthy and on the job amid fresh spikes
in COVID-19 cases, CVS Health Corp  CVS.N  has begun selling
companies a diagnostic testing program. 
    In addition to onsite and pharmacy testing, CVS also will
create plans for temperature and symptom checks, seasonal flu
vaccines and other immunizations and offer add-on services like
contact tracing technology for employees and other services. 
    The unexpected surge in COVID-19 cases in states in the
South and West has increased demand in recent weeks for testing
workers on a regular basis, such as every two weeks or every
month, said Troy Brennan, chief medical officer of the company, 
which operates pharmacies, a pharmacy benefit management (PBM)
service and the Aetna insurance plan. 
    "The general perception is that there is not going to be a
sustained lull over the course of the summer, and in fact it
looks like it is building somewhat, and that is changing
people's views," Brennan said.
    States including Florida, Arizona, and Texas, as well as
Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah have all reported an
increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2E01HH  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2DP28N
    The United States has had more than 2.3 million cases and
over 120,000 COVID-19 deaths, about a quarter of the world's
total.
    States hard hit early in the pandemic, such as New York and
New Jersey, have experienced dramatic declines in cases. But
many states that reopened before achieving safety metrics or are
not requiring mask wearing are seeing record increases. Overall
U.S. cases rose 25% last week with 10 states reporting a greater
than 50% rise in new infections, according to a Reuters
analysis.
    Other companies such as Labcorp Holdings  LH.N  and Quest
Diagnostics Inc  DGX.N  have also created testing services for
corporations. Quest is working with Delta Air Lines.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2D92T3  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2DO10S
    CVS, however, is one of the nation's largest healthcare
companies. Between its PBM services and insurance business, CVS 
serves some of the largest U.S. companies with hundreds of
thousands of employees.
    The new service, dubbed Return Ready, is open to all
companies, not just current customers.
    CVS declined to provide details about companies that have
already signed up, but said they are in discussions with media
companies, financials services, sports leagues and the public
sector.
    
    ANTIBODY TESTING NOT INCLUDED 
    Return Ready is aimed at large employers or smaller ones who
self-insure, meaning they pay for employee healthcare costs
rather than insurers - and instead pay CVS to manage the tests
and other services. 
    CVS declined to provide pricing for the program. Diagnostic
tests can cost more than $100 each.
    While the U.S. government has required health insurers to
cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing, that coverage is largely
restricted to "medically necessary" testing for those with
symptoms and does not cover these back-to-work programs.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2DS0Z0
    CVS is not offering tests that detect coronavirus antibodies
to show prior infection.
    Earlier this year, antibody tests were seen as key to
getting the United States back to work, while in Europe some
countries have considered related "immunity passports." But it
is not yet known whether the presence of those antibodies
confers some level of immunity against future infection or how
long any immunity might last. 
    Healthcare consulting firm Willis Towers Watson does not
advise employers to use antibody tests because of the
uncertainty about what they indicate, health management practice
leader Jeff Levin-Scherz said in a recent interview. 
    Even regular diagnostic testing offers no guarantees. If
everyone is tested and the tests are completely accurate, 
workers can still become infected a day after they test
negative, he said.
    "You still couldn't assume that your workplace is a bubble
and no COVID would come in," Levin-Scherz said.

 (Reporting by Caroline Humer; editing by Lewis Krauskopf and
Bill Berkrot)
 ((caroline.humer@thomsonreuters.com;))
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