Just days after President Trump signed executive orders to pave the way for sweeping changes to Obamacare, CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo talked with Fortune about the “unintended consequences” of the White House plan.
“You squeeze the balloon here, the balloon expands there,” he says.
Merlo has been working at CVS for nearly 20 years and has been CEO since 2011. He started his career as a pharmacist, so it’s not surprising that he has been committed to public health issues. CVS was the first major retail pharmacy to remove the sale of cigarettes from all of its stores. In September, it announced that it would limit opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply compared to 18 days as one way to bring an end to the opioid epidemic. These were bold moves by the nation’s largest pharmacy, which ranks as number seven on the Fortune 500 with revenues of $177 billion.
So what change would Merlo like to see in the Affordable Care Act? Bringing costs down. He’s campaigning for what he calls “consumerism” in healthcare. He believes healthcare costs will drop once consumers understand the price implications behind the health decisions they make.
“I think our first priority is to close the educational gap that exists around what I call healthcare IQ or healthcare literacy, and provide consumers with the tools so they can make informed decisions,” says Merlo. “I do believe it will reduce costs.”
Watch the video above to hear more of our conversation with Merlo.