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Reflections on the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Briefing with California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce

Los Angeles, CA: On June 1, JCI had the pleasure of partnering with the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to facilitate a discussion between CHCC members and our client, CVS Health, about health equity, social determinants of health, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), and drug pricing.

Leaders from the Oakland Latino Chamber, Los Angeles Latino Chamber, Sacramento Chamber, and others gathered in person and over Zoom to share their perspectives on building healthy communities in California and improving access to healthcare. Those in attendance also discussed how to best address social determinants of health, which include health infrastructure, education, economic condition, employment, and food access, among other things. Leaders emphasized the importance of improving access to healthcare services in rural and low-income communities in pharmacy deserts.


Joel Helle, Vice President of Physician Services at CVS Health, addressed attendee’s concerns surrounding HIV testing, access to healthcare services in rural communities, and mental health resources. During his presentation, Helle informed the Chamber leaders about the perks of Real Time Benefits, which provide doctors with information about alternate drugs that are cheaper for the patient.


Helle also provided the community leaders an explanation of what PBMs are and why they are so important. PBMs administer prescription drug benefits and prices. By negotiating with drug companies, PBMs help health plan sponsors like employers, unions, and public health programs, as well as their employees/members keep prescription drug costs as low as possible.


PBMs also help establish pharmacy networks, which are groups of pharmacies that have contracted with a health plan or a PBM to provide medication and care at a discounted price. In-network pharmacies offer more affordable prescriptions, as opposed to out-of-network pharmacies which can get very expensive.


During the conversation, Helle explained that PBMs seek to provide cheaper, better access to prescription drugs. Helle also spoke about CVS Health’s role in communities across the state.


CVS played a ‘listening’ role throughout the event, and will continue to find ways to address the comments that community leaders shared. JCI was thrilled with the success of the event, and looks forward to facilitating more productive conversations between community members and CVS.




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