CVS is What’s Wrong with Healthcare in the US
CEO Compensation is Obscene:
Pharmacies are Understaffed with Underpaid Workers
In the US, we pay twice as much for medical care as just about any other country in the world, for worse results. And how we could possibly “afford” to cover everyone is an ongoing “conundrum.”
Hmm . . . perhaps we should look at CVS, whose CEO, Larry Merlo, got $36.5 million in total compensation, in 2019.
Break that down?
An hour of his “work” was “worth” about $17,600.
A worker — perhaps at CVS — getting the federal minimum wage, $7.25/hr., putting in eight-hour days, five days per week, fifty-two weeks per year, would pull down an annual salary of $15,080.
That’s . . . I grope for words here.
Oh, now I remember: That’s WRONG!
When we talk about “growing economic inequality”? Look no further than your local CVS, where the median employee salary, in 2019, was $46,140, making the CEO pay ratio 790:1.
What the average employee made in a year?
CEO Merlo made in less than half a day.
Yeah, I’m a . . . Frequent-Pharmacy-Flyer
On the old sitcom, Cheers, one of the characters was such a “diligent” drinker that when he walked into any bar in Boston — not just the titular pub — he was greeted with a chorus of Norm!
That’s me and . . . pharmacies.
I practically live at my local CVS; I am a “heavy consumer” of medical services, medications very much included. I’ve called to check on prescriptions and had the person on the other end of the phone identify me by the sound of my voice.
Not proud of any of that; just trying to be accurate.
I really like the people who work at CVS — the counter-people, pharmacy techs, and pharmacists — but that may be hard for them to see under the cloud of steam that comes off my head just about any time I’m there.
Things just, routinely . . . don’t work.
It ain’t rocket science . . .
Insufficient investment in staffing, infrastructure, tech support, and maintenance: too few people given too much work to do; a voicemail maze that seems to always end at a brick wall; a web portal that routinely either lies or under-informs.
And, of course — as far as I know — I’ve never had the pleasure of bumping into CEO Merlo at my local CVS; the people who get to see me angry, trying to remain civil while my blood is boiling, trying to keep a lid on my rage and incredulity. . . they are decidedly not people who are making $293.25 per minute.
They’re just people trying to do their jobs, stuck inside a broken system that underpays and under-supports them — while the CVS C-Suite is overpopulated with the obscenely over-compensated people who . . . are actually responsible for the mess!
Every dollar the execs get? That’s a dollar not spent on a web portal or voicemail system that actually works, on properly staffing stores and properly compensating staff.
Show Me the Money!
We are endlessly told that “we can’t afford” decent medical care for everyone in America; and we are endlessly warned that government “interference” in the system represents a grave danger (“Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare!”). As in all else, we need only trust in the magic of markets and that will yield the most efficient result possible.
The average primary care physician earned about $200K in 2020.
Is CEO Merlo really worth over 180 physicians?
Is that “an efficient allocation of medical resources”?
RN’s make about $75K per year. For decades the US has “addressed” a chronic shortage of nurses by “importing” nurses from the Philippines, stripping staff from their hospitals.
Is CEO Merlo really worth almost 500 nurses?
Spoiler Alert: No.
We “can’t afford” to take care of people — patients, professionals, and workers?
Uhm . . . No.
What we can’t afford is to allow the top tenth of a percent of the people in the US to continue to loot the economy. Their theft is killing, impoverishing, and immiserating half or more of the rest of the population.
It is a sick economy — and a pathological corporate culture — that allows things like this to happen. One way or another? This has to stop.
CEO Merlo and his ilk should pray — and work, fervently — for a more just and rational system. The corporate class should be less afraid of reform and more afraid of what happens when there isn’t reform.
Because, that ever-louder ticking sound?
Spoiler Alert: It’s not a clock . . . It’s that medium-sized nuclear bomb on top of which CVS — like much of the rest of the Medical Industrial Complex — has built its C-Suite and corporate culture.