By: Samantha Fenlon


Twitter: SFenlonABC6

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WLNE) — A $69 billion deal has been struck to merge insurance giant Aetna with Woonsocket based CVS.

“We have a unique opportunity to redefine access to high quality care,” said Larry Merlo the President and CEO of the massive drugstore chain.

Merlo says the deal fills an unmet need in the current healthcare system.

“Our goal is to create a point of access to care in the community that is high quality, one that's more accessible and one that is less expensive,” said Merlo.

The Senior Director of Corporate Communications for CVS says the plan is for the company to stay in Rhode Island.

He issued a statement writing in part:

Over the years, we’ve seen career development and job opportunities open up for colleagues following our previous acquisitions of companies including Caremark, Coram and Omnicare, and we would expect similar opportunities to occur following the acquisition of Aetna.

Bob Hackey a Health Policy and Management Professor at Providence College calls this deal a really important development.

“This is a very innovative model. I think this is something that really has the potential to disrupt the healthcare industry,” said Hackey. “If you are a current Aetna customer you may see slightly lower drug prices over time as CVS is able to bargain more effectively. For CVS I think this is an opportunity to create a unified, they are referring to it as almost a health hub basically a one stop shopping experience for consumers.”

As far as concerns with a merger of this magnitude, Hackey points to the competition.

“One of the interesting questions is what we call the question of exclusivity. Will essentially CVS require Aetna customers to use its product, its stores?” said Hackey.

The proposal still needs to be approved by regulators and shareholders.

Governor Gina Raimondo issued the following statement on the news:

CVS Chief Executive Larry Merlo and I spoke this weekend to discuss CVS’s proposed merger with Aetna. If approved, this appears to be a move that would significantly strengthen the positioning of one of Rhode Island's most important companies and could make health care more affordable and accessible in Rhode Island and across our country.

©WLNE-TV / ABC6 2017