June 4 (UPI) -- CVS outlined Tuesday a strategy to accelerate growth amid skepticism from investors over its Aetna merger, including opening 1,500 health hubs in stores by 2021.
Health hubs provide a wider range of health services than a typical CVS store, such as space for one-on-one consultations with clinicians, labs for blood testing and other screenings and yoga.
The company announced Tuesday that the executive team of CVS Health would outline the expansion of its health hubs from three pilot stores in Houston.
The company plans to open more in Atlanta, Philadelphia, southern New Jersey and Tampa, Fla., stores by the end of 2019, with a total of 1,500 health hubs by the end of 2021.
CVS Pharmacy President Kevin Hourican said the health hubs have been successful in Houston with more customers in the MinuteClinics, increased sales at the front of the store and more demand for prescriptions.
The hubs are part of a series of initiatives to boost earnings potential and return to profit growth by next year as some investors are skeptical about $70 billion Aetna merger. Some other growth initiatives include introducing new products and services aimed at complex or chronic conditions, driving engagement through personalizing products and building technology infrastructure.
CVS said earlier this year it expected a 10 percent decline in adjusted operated income from its retail and long-term care business from $6.71 billion to $6.59 billion in large part from investments the company made after the federal tax overhaul and long-term business challenges. It also expected a decline in its pharmacy management business from $4.92 billion to $4.83 billion for the year, based on lower brand inflation and less hiking of prices of prescription drugs.
The company forecasts adjusted earnings of $6.68 to $6.88 for the full year of 2019.
However, longer-term projections announced Tuesday show adjusted earnings per share of $7 in 2020, mid-single digit percent adjusted earnings growth in 2021, and low-double digit percent growth in 2022.
Also, on Tuesday, a three-day federal hearing kicked-off on the merger, which closed in November, with U.S. District Judge Richard Leon presiding.
The Department of Justice raised the initial complaint about anti-competitive effects on the Medicare Part D prescription drug market, which the Justice Department and CVS settled in October with CVS agreeing to sell Aetna's Part D business to rival WellCare.
Still, Leon will consider if that settlement is adequate. He will hear from six witnesses, including those opposing the settlement, such as the American Medical Association, and witnesses testifying for CVS and the government.