• CVS Health received $43.3 million in coronavirus stimulus funds from the federal government, but is returning the money. 
  • CVS didn’t ask for the funding, which automatically went out beginning in April to all providers who bill Medicare. 
  • CEO Larry Merlo said he thought the money should go to those “facing significant financial challenges as a result of the pandemic.”
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CVS Health is returning $43.3 million to the federal government that it received from a federal bailout fund for medical providers, according to a letter obtained by Business Insider. 

“We have made the decision to return the funds and forgo participation in subsequent disbursements,” Merlo said in a letter dated May 19 to Alex Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. “In doing so, we hope to help HHS provide additional support to other providers who are facing significant financial challenges as a result of the pandemic.”

CVS, which provides healthcare to patients through its MinuteClinics and employs more than 10,000 nurses, was among more than 500,000 providers who received the earliest influx of cash from the federal government. CVS got the funding because it takes care of patients on Medicare, the government program that covers seniors and some people with disabilities. 

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The fund for providers was created under the $2 trillion CARES Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law March 27.

T.J. Crawford, a spokesman for CVS, confirmed the letter was sent to HHS on Tuesday.

“We understand we’re qualified to receive financial support, but this funding should be focused on other providers who are facing financial hardship due to the pandemic,” he said. 

HHS determined that the first $30 billion out of the $100 billion fund would go out automatically, though providers can decide whether they want to keep the funding. Health officials said they made this choice to get the money out quickly.

Retail giant Walmart also got stimulus money and decided to return it.

Read more: A leaked document from Senate Democrats provides clues on how the federal government will allocate $100 billion from the coronavirus stimulus to hospitals

The relief fund is supposed to help healthcare providers — whether doctor’s offices, clinics, or hospitals — recoup the money they spent from caring for patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. It’s also supposed to make up for money providers lost from having to cancel medical procedures that aren’t emergencies. 

CVS has been providing testing for the coronavirus and carried out more than 60,000 home visits amid the pandemic, according to Merlo’s letter. But in his letter, Merlo also noted that CVS hadn’t asked for the funds.

“In my view, returning these funds is part of CVS Health’s overall plan to do everything we can to help the communities we serve respond to the pandemic,” Merlo wrote. 

Several other healthcare providers, including hospitals, doctor practices, and nursing homes, have been worried about whether they would be able to keep their doors open. Providers are struggling financially because they’ve had to put off exams and procedures to conserve supplies and prepare for a surge of patients with COVID-19.

Read CVS’s full letter below:

Larry Merlo Letter

CVS Health

Merlo Letter 2

CVS Health

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