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Shareholders approve CVS-Aetna merger

CVS and Aetna merger
Late last year, CVS Health announced a roughly $69 billion deal to buy another insurer, Aetna. Those companies plan to convert drugstores into health care hotspots that people can turn to for a variety of needs in between doctor visits.

Shareholders on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a $69 billion deal for CVS Health to purchase health insurer Aetna, in a move that both companies hope will change the way healthcare is delivered.

The agreement was approved with roughly 97 percent of the votes cast. After the transaction, shareholders of Aetna will receive $145 in cash and 0.8378 of a CVS Health share for each Aetna share, valued at $207.94 during its closing price at the time of the agreed merger.

The agreement will combine the companies’ coverage options with drugstore capabilities and a pharmacy benefits platform.

Both sides expect that their customers will be able to benefit from the services they deliver and keep patients out of the emergency room, as they receive much of their primary care from CVS MinuteClinics.

"When this merger is complete, the combined company will be well-positioned to reshape the consumer health care experience, putting people at the center of health care delivery to ensure they have access to high-quality, more affordable care where they are, when they need it," said Larry Merlo, CVS Health president and CEO.

Even after clearing the shareholder hurtle, the CVS-Aetna merger will need to be approved by federal regulators at the Justice Department before it can proceed. Another large merger valued at $37 billion for Aetna, with fellow insurance provider Humana, was blocked by a federal judge who cited antitrust issues.

The announcement from late last year of the intended partnership opened the door to other planned healthcare mergers and is largely in response to health providers looking for ways to lower costs. Grocery chain Albertsons will be buying Rite Aid; and Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced in January that they have agreed to work together to provide healthcare for their employees that is "free from profit-making incentives and constraints."