Answer: Probably not. And now neither will CVS, which has announced it will no longer sell tobacco products in its stores.This story is about more than the crusade against Big Tobacco. More importantly it’s a sign that CVS will increasingly be making business decisions on the assumption that it is a major provider of health care:
“We have about 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners helping patients manage chronic problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease, all of which are linked to smoking,” said Larry J. Merlo, chief executive of CVS. “We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don’t go together in the same setting” […]A shortage of primary care doctors and expanding access to health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act is turning drugstore chains into big players in the nation’s health care system. Consumers routinely get flu shots in drugstores, for instance, and clinics staffed by nurse practitioners or physician assistants and offering basic care for common ailments like strep throat or pink eye are popping up everywhere from Walgreens to Walmart.
Big box clinics are good for health care delivery in a lot of ways. When it comes to certain kinds of primary care, they’re less expensive than a doctor’s office (sometimes by 30 or 40 percent), due to their heavy reliance on nurse practitioners. With the demand in health care rising under the ACA and primary care provider shortages popping up across the country, outlets like CVS can help fill the service gap and shift our system’s center of gravity away from hospitals while they do it.If big box clinics get in the health care innovation business in earnest, it could generate some real progress toward bending the health care cost curve.